From Leeds to Ayrshire, Scotland boss Steve Clarke has some decent options at centre-back despite being hit with two big blows at the weekend.
March 26 is when Scotland will take on Israel in a Euro 2020 play-off. Should that tie be won, Clarke will lead the Tartan Army against Norway or Serbia for a chance to play at the Euro’s this summer, which would be Scotland’s first major tournament since 1998.
Centre-half might have become a problem position at the weekend. Hearts defender John Souttar’s season is over after snapping his achilles and regular Scotland call-up Scott McKenna has tore his hamstring, although the extent of the damage is unknown according to Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes.
Charlie Mulgrew hasn’t played since December either whilst promising Hibs centre-half Ryan Porteous is out with a knee injury. Clarke’s got some decisions to make at centre-back so NTOF’s taken a look at five possible candidates for the central defender roles.
Liam Cooper – Leeds United
Cooper is currently enjoying a brilliant season with Leeds as they strive for Premier League promotion. The Elland Road captain, he has made 29 appearances for Marcelo Bielsa this term.
Injury has ruled him out of some recent Scotland squads but Clarke will likely have his eye on the Leeds skipper come squad selection time.
Stuart Findlay – Kilmarnock
The Killie centre-half has been a rock for the Ayrshire side for a few seasons now. Clarke knows all about his traits, having worked with Findlay throughout his time at Rugby Park.
Good in the air and a threat in both boxes, the Rugby Park man would be a solid option for the Tartan Army.
Declan Gallagher – Motherwell
Motherwell’s towering defender has enjoyed a rise to prominence in recent seasons. Following a stellar debut Premiership campaign with Livingston, the Well got him for free during the summer and he has been a colossus in their bid for European football.
His rise was capped off with Scotland berths last year against Kazakhstan and Cyprus, turning in solid performances in both ties. Perhaps this will show Clarke that Gallagher can replicate his domestic form at international level.
Grant Hanley – Norwich City
The most experienced defender in this list in terms of Scotland appearances, Hanley has earned 30 caps for his national side. He’s recently returned to regular Norwich City action, playing 90 minutes six times between January 22 and February 28.
In terms of fully fledged internationals, Clarke won’t have many to choose from at centre-half. Perhaps Norwich man Hanley would bring that experience to the table.
Andy Considine – Aberdeen
Mikey Devlin could also be considered having made several Scotland squads but his Dons teammate surely warrants a call-up now. At the age of 32, he won’t be a long-term option for the national team.
But there aren’t many Scottish defenders playing better than Considine right now, providing stewardship and solidity to the Dons backline. Five goals and four assists from 37 games this term also shows he’s not bad going forward either.