Oli McBurnie can win four-way fight to lead Scotland at the Euros, says Provan

DEFEAT to Israel on Wednesday night was no disaster.

Yeah, it might have cost us a back door invite to Qatar 2022, but it was a reality check.

Oli McBurnie


Oli McBurnieCredit: Willie Vass – The Sun
McBurnie in Israel


McBurnie in IsraelCredit: Reuters

After the hysteria of the Serbia result, it’ll put our feet back on the ground.

The delirium in Belgrade was a given after a 22-year wait. But there’s no point in making the Euros unless we can compete.

To do that we’ll need more at the business end of the pitch.

In Lyndon Dykes, Leigh Griffiths, Lawrence Shankland and Oli McBurnie, Steve Clarke has a pool of four strikers. Callum Paterson and Oliver Burke provide back-up.

But if Griffiths is the best finisher of the lot, can he be trusted? Do we know what kind of nick he’ll be in come next summer?

Lyndon Dykes is currently Steve Clarke's no1 striker


Lyndon Dykes is currently Steve Clarke’s no1 strikerCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Can Clarke hang his hat on the Celtic striker when Neil Lennon couldn’t trust him to turn up fit for pre-season?

If Dykes is the man in possession at the moment, Clarke can’t afford to bomb McBurnie.

I’ve seen enough of the boy performing for his club to know there’s a player in there.

Unfortunately the social media mob have made up their minds on the Sheffield United striker. They’re not having him.

Most of them wouldn’t know a football if it hit them in the kisser, but they’re cranking up the noise. Clarke should treat them with the contempt they deserve.

McBurnie wouldn’t be the first Scotland player to get the treatment. Brian McClair was a top striker regularly booed in a Scotland shirt.

Brian McClair was often booed in a Scotland shirt


Brian McClair was often booed in a Scotland shirtCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the best 800 grand he’d ever spent, Choccy couldn’t win over the Scotland support.

Like McClair, McBurnie isn’t playing in England’s top flight by luck. He got there on the back of a 22-goal season for Swansea in the Championship.

Those numbers were enough to see Blades boss Chris Wilder make him the most expensive Scot in history at the time at £20million. Wilder insists it was money well spent.

The idea the boy can’t finish is nonsense. Problem is he hasn’t done it for Scotland and the pressure is building.

In Slovakia we saw a player whose confidence is shot taking extra touches when he should be acting instinctively.

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It happens to better strikers than McBurnie.

My Sky Sports buddy Gary Birtles arrived at Manchester United with two European Cup winner’s medals and nothing to prove, but 25 goalless league games later he was being measured for a straitjacket.

It got to the stage he didn’t want to pull on his boots. He’d scored for fun at Nottingham Forest but couldn’t hit a barn door at United.

Hopefully McBurnie will avoid that fate. And if his penalty in Belgrade doesn’t prove his character, nothing will.

The script was written for him to…

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