Scotland coach Steven Reid may just have hinted that Aberdeen centre-half Mikey Devlin is in line for a surprise Scotland appearance against Russia.
The centre-back has been drafted into the squad after Grant Hanley dropped out. Devlin was last in the national team squad in October last year, but didn’t make any appearances.
If Reid’s comments are anything to go by, Devlin may be set for a different experience this time around.
He told the Evening Express: “An injury or another reason to pull out of the squad at club level as well means there is an opportunity for someone to come in and take their chance, and that’s usually the case.
“It is quite rare you get an opportunity through some other reason – usually it’s an injury or if someone is struggling for form and you have to take the opportunity if called upon.”
Devlin has a chance of making Scotland bow
It’ll definitely be an odd looking central defensive partnership for Steve Clarke against Russia and Belgium. His main men in Charlie Mulgrew and fellow Don Scott McKenna will be split up, as the latter is injured.
Grant Hanley, John Souttar and Stuart Findlay are other options Clarke has called upon at some stage, but all of them are injured. It has opened up the door for the likes of Devlin.
Could he start against Russia? There’s no reason to suggest he couldn’t. Mulgrew will likely start, but then it’ll be a straight fight between David Bates, Liam Cooper and Devlin for the other spot.
Cooper could be chosen as he is the captain at Elland Road and would bring leadership to the Scotland backline. Bates had a mixed year in Germany with Hamburg and now finds himself back in the UK with Sheffield Wednesday.
Devlin in the meantime has been touted as Derek McInnes’ regular choice in defence at Aberdeen when fit (Press and Journal). He should get the nod over the two of them. The defender is assured defensively and great in the air.
He also has a great effect on his team at club level. During a seven game spell between September and November last year, the Dons conceded just five times. It’s clear that Devlin makes their defence tick when he plays.
Clarke should look to give the Dons defender a go on Friday. The comments of one of his coaches seem to suggest that he may just get that chance.