Scotland ‘not short of issues’ before Ukraine decider in Nations League

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Scotland players training
Scotland players trained in Edinburgh on Monday before their journey to Poland
Venue: Cracovia Stadium, Krakow Date: Tuesday, 27 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app, highlights on BBC One Scotland from 22:45

Scotland manager Steve Clarke says he’s “not short of issues” before Tuesday’s Nations League decider with Ukraine.

Scott McKenna, Scott McTominay and Kieran Tierney are the latest players to withdraw from the squad while Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes have been ill.

Forward Adams clarified he has trained and is ready to play as the Scots seek to preserve their spot at the top of Group B1 with either a draw or win.

“We’ve got some kind of virus in the camp,” said Clarke.

“We’re not short of issues and we’re also not short of determination to go there and finish the job. It’s a case of just dealing with what the fate’s throwing at us just now.”

Last week’s 3-0 win at home to Ukraine and the weekend 2-1 defeat of Republic of Ireland at Hampden has given Scotland a two-point lead at the top of the group before the final match in Poland.

Avoiding defeat in Krakow will ensure Clarke’s side gain Nations League promotion while also booking a play-off spot for Euro 2024.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” the Scotland boss added. “We want to finish top of the group. We have to play as well as we can play and get the result required.

“The achievement for us is just to keep improving. If that brings promotion to Group A then it’s another step on the way.

“Ukraine know how good we are. They’ll be determined to play to their best, we’re determined to play to our best.”

Team news

Hearts duo Stephen Kingsley and Barrie McKay were called up to the Scotland squad after the withdrawals of McKenna, McTominay and Tierney.

The Scots were already without captain and defender Andy Robertson, goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, defenders Nathan Patterson and Grant Hanley, midfielder David Turnbull and forwards Jacob Brown and Ross Stewart.

Adams and Dykes will travel despite their feeling unwell, while Greg Taylor is expected to replace Tierney at left-back, with Josh Doig also available.

St Mirren’s Declan Gallagher, who was called up along with Doig after the win over Ireland, Kingsley and Hibernian centre-back Ryan Porteous are all capable of deputising next to Jack Hendry.

Brentford full-back Aaron Hickey started at right-back on Saturday and came off with a knock but trained on Monday.

Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov says the 23 players he had for Saturday’s 5-0 defeat of Armenia are still available. That group does not include goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan or versatile Arsenal man Oleksandr Zinchenko, who also missed last week’s match in Glasgow.

What they said

Ukraine coach Oleksandr Petrakov: “I know what team I will have. We have good players. We miss all the experienced players. We don’t have main or reserve line-ups – we have one team, a good team and I believe in my team.

“It’s our target and we all wish to get promoted to League A. I’m not very sure how many Ukrainians will be at the match. Our biggest desire is to play home matches again.”

Scotland striker Che Adams: “We’ve had a good two games this camp, we have to end it well now. We want to show how good we are as a team, it’s just about getting over that final line.

“Everyone wants to do well for the nation, that’s the most important thing. We’re in a good place at the moment and we want to keep it up. I’ve been here 18 months and the improvement has been drastic. We’re good and smart enough to be consistent.”

Match stats

  • Ukraine have alternated between victory (two) and defeat (two) in their four meetings with Scotland in all competitions, losing 3-0 in Glasgow last Wednesday.
  • This is the third meeting between Ukraine and Scotland in 2022 – it’s the sixth time Scotland have faced the same side as many as three times in the same calendar year, most recently doing so against Israel in 2020.
  • Scotland lost their only previous away game against Ukraine, 2-0 in October 2006. However, the Scots are unbeaten in their past three visits to Poland (W1 D2), since a 1-0 friendly loss to the Poles in May 1980.
  • Scotland have won four of their past six away games in all competitions (D1 L1), while they’ve scored eight goals in their previous four (W2 D1 L1), one more than in their prior nine on the road (7).
  • Including those played in Poland, Ukraine have lost just one of their seven home games in the Nations League (W5 D1), going down 2-1 against Germany in October 2020.
  • Oleksandr Zubkov was directly involved in three goals in Ukraine’s 5-0 win over Armenia in their last match (one goal, two assists), more than he had in his first 22 international appearances combined beforehand.
  • Artem Dovbyk was directly involved in three goals in Ukraine’s 5-0 win over Armenia in their last match (two goals, one assist), despite only playing 24 minutes as a substitute. He’d scored just one goal (no assists) in his previous 240 minutes of action in the Nations League before this.
  • John McGinn has had more shots (19) and created more chances (12) than any other Scotland player in this edition of the Nations League.

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