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Ukraine v Scotland – Talking points as Scots seek Nations League promotion

Scotland go up against Ukraine again on Tuesday (Steve Welsh/PA).
Scotland go up against Ukraine again on Tuesday (Steve Welsh/PA).

Scotland take on Ukraine in their final Nations League Group B1 fixture in Krakow on Tuesday night.

Steve Clarke’s side are two points ahead of Ukraine at the top of the table and need just a draw to gain promotion to League A.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points ahead of the game.

Scott McTominay missing

Scott McTominay
Scott McTominay is suspending for the match with Ukraine (Steve Welsh/PA).

The Manchester United midfielder is suspended, having picked up a booking late in the game against Ireland which has proved costly.

McTominay had been reinstated into the engine room after previously playing in a three-man defence, although he may well have been asked to drop back for the final fixture in place of the injured Scott McKenna.

Ryan Jack, Kenny McLean or Billy Gilmour will be asked to take over, but Clarke will lose McTominay’s height in both boxes.

Injuries mount

Scott McKenna
Scotland are without Scott McKenna (left) through injury (Andrew Milligan/PA).

Nottingham Forest centre-back McKenna was assured in both games against Ukraine and Republic of Ireland at Hampden Park but injury renders him unavailable.

Uncapped Hibernian defender Ryan Porteous is in the squad and Clarke brought in St Mirren’s Declan Gallagher before the game against the Irish, along with Josh Doig, after Nathan Patterson and David Turnbull pulled out.

Of course, McTominay’s suspension means he is not an option, so Clarke will have to decide whether it is Porteous or Gallagher who partners Jack Hendry, or maybe even accommodate both in a back three, but his squad is clearly stretched.

No first-choice full-backs

Nathan Patterson
Nathan Patterson is among those unavailable to Steve Clarke (Steve Welsh/PA).

Skipper Andy Robertson was already out of September’s triple header, but he has been joined on the sidelines by Kieran Tierney and Patterson.

Scotland started the game against Republic of Ireland with Tierney and Aaron Hickey in full-back positions and finished it with Celtic duo Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor.

The inexperienced Hickey has recovered from a knock and will battle with Ralston for a start while, left-back Taylor, in good form at Parkhead this season, should keep his place.

Striking dilemma

Lyndon Dykes
Lyndon Dykes scored twice against Ukraine at Hampden (Steve Welsh/PA).

Clarke must decide whether to go with Lyndon Dykes or Che Adams as a lone striker. Both players have been hit by the virus in the Scotland camp but will travel.

Adams started and played well against Ukraine, but it was Dykes who came off the bench to score twice and clinch the 3-0 win.

The QPR striker got the nod against Ireland and he made way for Adams in the second half, not having had the same impact. Adams’ performance against the same opposition last time might just see him in from the start.

Unpredictable opposition

Oleksandr Petrakov
Ukraine manager Oleksandr Petrakov saw his side well beaten at Hampden (Steve Welsh/PA).

Ukraine deservedly knocked Scotland out of the World Cup play-off semi-final at Hampden in June with a 3-1 win.

When they returned last Wednesday night on Nations League duty they were well beaten 3-0 by the Scots who turned in a terrific second-half performance.

Ukraine head coach Oleksandr Petrakov completely changed the starting XI for the trip to Armenia and they crushed the home side 5-0. Petrakov now has to choose a side to tackle Scotland, but will their performance be more Hampden than Yerevan?