Steven Reid is relishing the prospect of working with Kieran Tierney – even though it will be his first experience of Scotland’s notorious left-back conundrum.
Tierney, a starter for Celtic when aged just 17, became the most-expensive Scottish export ever last summer when he was snapped up by Arsenal for £25 million.
Yet despite the huge fee and the formidable reputation that helped generate it, he is generally unable to get a game for the country in his favourite position.
Why? Because Scotland are also blessed with the man who is arguably the best left-back in world football – Liverpool’s Andy Robertson.
Tierney suffered a dislocated shoulder back in December, and was inching closer to a comeback when lockdown hit football.
The Gunners are back in action on Wednesday night, with Tierney in line to make his comeback at Manchester City.
Reid will be watching on with interest.
“I have not really encountered a dilemma like this one before,” said the assistant to national coach, Steve Clarke.
“When I was playing international football with the Republic of Ireland, we were fortunate that our talent was spread around the team.
“We had Robbie Keane, Roy Keane, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne – top, top, players who were pretty much exclusive to their positions.
“Left-back wasn’t an issue. We had Steven Carr and Steve Finnan in the same era. Ian Harte too.
“But it’s better to have this problem than not.
“For the gaffer and the coaching staff, it’s great that we have players at that level, with top clubs, and it’s about finding a way to put out the best team we can.”
Reid was himself versatile, able to fill various role in midfield or defence as required, often by Clarke when the pair were at West Brom.
He knows enough about Tierney to be confident of his adaptability.
“Listen, I’d imagine Kieran’s favoured position is left-back, but he has the ability, and the temperament to play in numerous positions,” he continued.
“There’s no doubt he could do it, and it’s good to see him get up to speed again.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to the next squad.”
Tierney getting back up to speed is indeed good to see, with the 23-year-old having been out since late December.
“I’ve not spoken him personally, but the manager had a meeting with Kieran before the lockdown,” said Reid.
“He went down to London, and they had a really positive chat over a bit of lunch or a coffee somewhere close to his home.”
The Scotland coach, meanwhile, makes no effort to hide his excitement about getting to see Billy Gilmour in action again.
“The way Billy burst on the scene was incredible,” said Reid.
“With his performances – and the maturity in those performances at such a young age – he looks the part. There is no two ways about that.
“Going forward, it is possibly going to be more games for him now with Chelsea, and the chance to get that little bit more experience.
“If Billy continues what he is doing, it is just going to be a matter of time before he plays for Scotland.
“You’d be an idiot to say otherwise.”
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