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Alan Brazil: Oli McBurnie’s no world-beater but he is the best we have

© SNSOli McBurnie failed to make any headway in Kazakhstan – and he wasn’t alone
Oli McBurnie failed to make any headway in Kazakhstan – and he wasn’t alone

Oli McBurnie has developed a habit of making off-the-field headlines.

And I understand some Scotland fans will be thinking: “Why are we bothering with this fella?”

But I reckon he’s our go-to-guy to lead the line in the Euro 2020 play-offs.

Okay, he has yet to score for the national team in nine appearances.

People will criticise him for that, and I can see why.

But, to be fair to the player, he’s scored a few goals in the Premier League this season.

Beyond that, he’s also doing the job Sheffield United boss, Chris Wilder, wants him to do.

Wilder isn’t the kind of gaffer who’d hesitate to drop anybody who wasn’t pulling their weight. So the fact that McBurnie is playing week-in, week-out is telling.

For me, if he can do it in the Premier League, he can do it for Scotland.

As for his antics at Swansea City’s clash with Cardiff City last weekend, where he was caught gesturing towards the Cardiff fans from the Swansea end – does anybody really care?

He was there supporting his old club. All he was guilty of is having fun and showing a bit of passion.

And, anyway, what’s the alternative for national boss Steve Clarke?

The Scotland boss doesn’t have the same depth of player pool to pull from as his England counterpart, Gareth Southgate.

I don’t think Harry Kane will recover from his hamstring injury in time to lead the line for Southgate’s side at the Euros.

But the Three Lions boss can pick up the phone to Jamie Vardy, he can look at Marcus Rashford, he can bring in Tammy Abraham, he can give the nod to Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

At the moment, Steve Clarke has just one striker playing Premier League football – and that’s McBurnie.

Celtic’s James Forrest is good for a goal, of course, but he’s no No. 9.

In terms of out-and-out strikers, beyond McBurnie – and with Leigh Griffiths still looking for form and regular games – Scotland are looking at Steven Naismith and Lawrence Shankland.

Naismith has had a great career and he’s useful to have about the squad.

Shankland, meanwhile, is scoring a shed-load of goals for Dundee United.

But if we’re relying on either to get us through the play-offs, I think we’ll struggle.

We’re talking about a veteran in Naismith, and, in Shankland, a Scottish Championship player.

Fair enough, the United striker scored against San Marino – but they’re a pub team!

It’s a far cry from what it was like during my Scotland career.

I got 13 caps for Scotland – and I’m certain I should have won more.

But I was competing with the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Andy Gray, Paul Sturrock, Steve Archibald and Joe Jordan – and that’s just for starters!

We had an embarrassment of riches up top at that time.

In fact, we had an embarrassment of riches in every area of the park.

Nowadays it’s relatively slim pickings, other than at left-back!

For me, McBurnie fits the bill up front because he’s big, he occupies defenders and he can finish inside the box.

He’s has proved himself capable of leading the line in the Premier League, which is extremely competitive, let’s remember.

So, even though Scotland fans are still sceptical, I think he will come good for the national team – as long as Steve Clarke keeps the faith.