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Who do our sports writers think will start for Scotland in Serbia tonight?

Andy Considine and boss Steve Clarke celebrate after Scotland's defeat of the Czech Republic last year.

Scotland face Serbia tonight in Belgrade in a do-or-die clash for a place at next summer’s Euros.

It would be the Dark Blues’ first major tournament appearance for 22 years and the Tartan Army are hoping and praying this can be the moment their long wait comes to an end.

Boss Steve Clarke now has Scotland defending well and getting results on the back of being hard to beat – they are undefeated in eight games – and he has suggested his line-up for the meeting with the Serbians is close to being set in stone.

But what will the line-up be?

We set three of our sports writers the task of laying out Clarke’s starting 11 ahead of time.

The line-ups below are intended to be predictions of Clarke’s thinking, however, as you’ll see, our pundits can’t resist a little bit of “but what I would do is…” creeping into their answers.

Paul Third

“I don’t think Andy Considine makes it. He deserves to on the merit of his last two performances (against Slovakia and the Czech Republic).

“It’s probably the biggest decision Clarke has to make – what he’s doing with his defence. The guys who came in did so well in the last couple of games, but with Scott McKenna and Kieran Tierney back, I’d expect both of them to be involved.

“You’re then looking at the third, and – while I’m not convinced – I think Scott McTominay’s going to get the nod there in a three-man defence.

“I go for John McGinn, Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor as the midfield three, with Ryan Christie up playing off Lyndon Dykes.

“I just think the three guys in the middle have great engines, can all do the defensive side and are a goal threat.

“Dykes is starting if fit and it’s a case of ‘how many guys can we get up supporting him for knock-ons and second balls?’ That’s going to be the game plan. It’s not pretty, but it’s effective.”

Line-up: Marshall, O’Donnell, McTominay, McKenna, Tierney, Robertson, McGinn, Armstrong, McGregor, Christie, Dykes.


Jamie Durent

“I’ve got a similar train of though to Paul, with Tierney coming back in on the left side of the three. I think Declan Gallagher keeps his place – he was a stand-out performer in the last three games.

“As harsh as it would be on Scott McKenna, Gallagher’s proven he can do it and they quite like his organisation skills, especially playing alongside two guys who are not necessarily natural centre-backs (McTominay and Tierney). I think they’ll be the back three.

“McTominay has the ability to play out.

“I think Clarke will go with Ryan Jack and McGregor in the middle of the park.

“Given Leigh Griffiths has not played any part under Clarke, I imagine he won’t feature from the start upftong.

Leigh Griffiths has been out of the Scotland picture for a spell and, although our pundits don’t think he’ll start, they all know what he can do for the Dark Blues.

“I think he’ll bring Ryan Christie back in behind Lyndon Dykes, with McGinn also playing off him, like they did in the first game against Israel in September, rather than two up front.

“If it was me, I’d bring Stuart Armstrong instead of Christie. He’s been great in the second striker role for Southampton. He’d press from the front and replace the energy of the missing Ryan Fraser.

“He could go like-for-like with Oli Burke for Fraser, but that’s unlikely, given he hasn’t done much in a Scotland shirt.”

Line-up: Marshall, O’Donnell, McTominay, Gallagher, Tierney, Robertson, Jack, McGregor, McGinn, Christie, Dykes.


Callum Law

“I’d love to see Considine play, but like Paul said, I think he may miss out.

“It frustrates me and Willie Miller said it frustrates him, how people like Tierney and McKenna get the nod because they play for “bigger” clubs, when Considine’s proven himself in the last two games. On the basis of those performances, he should keep his place.

“In terms of the back-three, I’d have McTominay drop out. Steve Clarke’s tried him a few times and every time he’s been the weakest link in the defence. Most of the problems the opposition have cause have been in his channel.

“He’s a good player, a Manchester United player, but he’s not a defender.

“If I was picking I’d have Gallagher on the right, McKenna in the centre and I think Clarke will drop Tierney on the left rather than Considine.

“I agree with Paul and Jamie in that I don’t think Griffiths starts, but it’s great he’s in the squad, because he’s a natural goalscorer and, if the game’s level with 15/20 minutes to go, he’s the man you want to be putting on the win the game.

“My choice would be to push McGinn up, playing off of Dykes in the second striker role. He’s got pace, energy to go beyond and an eye for goal.

John McGinn in action against Israel.

“I’d then have a three in the middle of the park of  Jack,  Armstrong and Kenny McLean.”

Line-up: Marshall, O’Donnell, Gallagher, McKenna, Tierney, Robertson, Jack, Armstrong, McLean, McGinn, Dykes.