Steve Clarke to persevere with Scotland's three-man defence as he praises Lyndon Dykes

Manager says new striker will get better service
Steve Clarke gave Lyndon Dykes a Scotland debut against Israel.Steve Clarke gave Lyndon Dykes a Scotland debut against Israel.
Steve Clarke gave Lyndon Dykes a Scotland debut against Israel.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke promised debut striker Lyndon Dykes that he will get better service after the disappointing 1-1 draw with Israel.

Labelling his new internationalist a “proper centre-forward”, Clarke declared himself very happy with Dykes’ display and said he will persevere with a three-man defence.

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Scotland used that system for the first time under Clarke but looked disjointed at times as Israel took deserved point from the opening Nations League tie at an empty Hampden Park.

Dykes, who joined Queens Park Rangers from Livingston in a £2million deal last month, held play up intelligently although he lacked support from colleagues at times in a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Clarke explained that the Scots will get better as they get used to the new set-up but has not decided whether to retain it for Monday’s visit to Czech Republic.

"I’m definitely going to persevere with it,” he said. “Whether I do it in the next game or not, I don’t know. Ideally, we'd like to have two systems we can play and maybe change in games.

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"I want to try and work on what we’ve got. I’ll look at the Czech Republic and decide if it’s best to go with three at the back or go back to a four.”

On Dykes, Clarke said: "The lad trained very well all week and i think you saw his qualities. He holds the ball up well. Our support to him in the first half was good. Maybe we were more hesitant to get support to him in the second half.

"He offers something different. He is a target player who will hold the ball up, win a header or look to run behind. He is a proper centre-forward. I was pleased with him and I think the lads were as well.

"He is improving all the time. He improved at Queen of the South, went to Livingston and kept improving. Hopefully now he’s got his move to the English Championship that will give him another lift.

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"He is working with a good coach down there in Mark Warburton. When he comes away with us, the more internationals he plays, the better he will become.

"This is his first game and it's in a slightly different system. We will get better at it. We will get better support to him and hopefully we will create more chances.”

Scott McTominay, Scott McKenna and Kieran Tierney lined up in Scotland’s back three, with James Forrest and Andy Robertson wing-backs.

Ryan Christie scored the opening goal from the penalty spot just before half-time but Eran Zahavi scored a spectacular equaliser for Israel in the second half.

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"I thought it was 50/50, there were positives and negatives,” said Clarke. “There were a lot of good things from a very short period of time to work on something different.

"Defensively I thought we looked quite comfortable but you have to say they also looked quite comfortable as well. There are some things to work on in attack. I’m reasonably satisfied. It’s obviously disappointing not to get a clean sheet and three points.”

Christie admitted the players were less than satisfied. “We’re a little bit frustrated. The aim was to get a clean sheet, we said that at half-time, but I think we limited them to very few chances. The frustrating thing is the one they did put in,” he said.

"It's still very early days. It's a long time since we’ve met up. We were desperate to get the win but we have extended our unbeaten run to four games.

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"We were good in possession in the first half and controlled the game out of possession. There is plenty time to make up the points elsewhere, and this gives us a look at Israel ahead of next month.”

Israel return to Hampden for the European Championship play-off semi-final next month. "We are happier after seeing them. We will analyse what we did well and what we need to improve. We are still very confident we can get a result against them next time,” said Christie.

"We have a big match on Monday and we’re looking to get a result there. The shape will become more second-nature to us. It is the first time we’ve played it.

"KT [Tierney] playing that inside-left role was quality and allowed Andy to push on a bit. When it finally all comes together I think we can be very threatening in this formation.”

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The Celtic midfielder admitted being relieved seeing his penalty go in despite jeering from the group of Israel substitutes.

“I noticed there were whistles and all sorts. I’m sure if it was the other way round we’d be doing the same. I’m just happy to score,” he said.

“I was just glad to see it go in. When I grabbed the ball I kind of knew where it was going. There was a bit less pressure with no fans in the ground and I’m happy to take on that responsibility.”

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