The main talking points ahead of Scotland’s clash with Cyprus in Nicosia

Scotland take on Cyprus in their penultimate European Championship qualifying game on Saturday.

Here are the talking points ahead of the game in Nicosia.

Third Class

A poor campaign has reduced Scotland to battling for third spot with Cyprus and Kazakhstan. Cyprus currently occupy the position and will clinch a historic high finish if they win at the GSP Stadium. With the Cypriots facing Belgium away on Tuesday, a draw would likely see Scotland and Kazakhstan play for third at Hampden on Tuesday but Steve Clarke’s men will almost certainly need four points from somewhere.

Momentum Shift

Clarke started his reign with a last-gasp win over Cyprus and then four consecutive defeats in the games against Russia and Belgium. A 6-0 win over San Marino last time out was little more than what was expected so the Scotland boss needs to kick-start his reign ahead of the play-off campaign in March. A win in both of the final two qualifiers would provide some much-needed confidence ahead of a semi-final against the likes of Bulgaria, Israel or Romania.

Back Four Changes

Greg Taylor has played once since his deadline-day move to Celtic
Greg Taylor has played once since his deadline-day move to Celtic (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Clarke has only selected an unchanged back four once in six matches and injuries to Andy Robertson and Stuart Findlay will make that one in seven. Celtic’s Greg Taylor is likely to come in at left-back for only his second game in three months, while Aberdeen pair Michael Devlin and Scott McKenna can expect to feature in central defence with the uncapped Declan Gallagher and Ryan Porteous the other options.

Striking Choices

Steven Naismith has returned to action for Hearts
Steven Naismith has returned to action for Hearts (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Lawrence Shankland will be looking to continue up front after netting on his first start against San Marino and subsequently taking his tally for the season to 20 with goals in his last four Dundee United games. Steven Naismith is back in the frame and looking for his 50th cap after missing the last 12 months for Scotland with knee and hamstring injuries, while Oliver Burke will be hoping that his winner against Cyprus in June earns him some game time. Oli McBurnie is also back in the squad after injury.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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