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Lawrence Shankland Should Keep his Scotland Starting Shirt

Date: 15th October 2019

I’m not going to go wild because Scotland beat San Marino 6-0! 

Yes, it’s great that we managed to finally get a victory under our belt after a few big defeats in 2019. 

In Moscow we lost 4-0 to Russia last week and again looked extremely gutless after going a goal down. 

The biggest plus point for me, during this latest international break, was the performances of Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland

The striker has been in lethal form so far this term, scoring thirteen goals in eight league games, but the fact it’s happened in the Scottish Championship saw many questioning his inclusion. But forwards are a bit thin on the ground for Steve Clarke at the moment and it was intriguing to see if Lawrence could make the step up. 

The twenty-four year old made his debut in Moscow, coming on for that dreadful second half. But in fairness to Shankland he brought an energy to the game and before we conceded our first goal in the 57th minute he was linking up well with his teammates. After those bright early moments he got very little change once Russia started scoring. He lacked service and the whole team crumpled, so you couldn’t overly judge his maiden international appearance. 

The hitman then got his first start in a Scotland jersey in the San Marino clash. 

Again the Dundee Utd man was bright. The thing that really stood out for me was his movement. He almost scored inside the first six minutes. James Forrest got into the opposition’s penalty area and crossed the ball in low. Shankland expertly waited on the defender’s shoulder before quickly darting ahead of his opponent and towards the near post, his run left the San Marino centre-back stranded and only a great stop from the keeper kept it out. 

For John McGinn’s first goal, the number nine made a subtle run to the back post as Ryan Christie picked the ball up on the righthand side. This wee run created space in the centre and McGinn ran into it and he diverted Christie’s effort into the back of the net!  

His goal might have been the easiest of tap-ins but he did manage to stay onside and stay free inside the penalty area and that’s not always easy. 

Lawrence Shankland is a terrific finisher, we know that from all his goals in Scotland’s second tier but he has the movement that we’ve lacked in recent fixtures up-top at Hampden. He always seems to be on his toes and constantly moving defenders around. 

After the game the forward was thrilled that he could contribute for his nation: 

“I’m delighted with tonight.”

“I knew I would get chances. San Marino let teams have the ball and I knew the boys would create things for me.”

“It wasn’t the prettiest goal I’ve ever scored but I’ll take it.”

It’s great to hear someone being passionate about playing for Scotland and also being happy in that tough international environment. 

His performances in training didn’t go unnoticed either, with hat-trick hero John McGinn giving Lawrence a special mention after the 6-0 win

“I’m beaming, delighted. I’ve been watching Lawrence Shankland in training and learning how to finish!”

So should Lawrence Shankland keep that number nine shirt for the Cyprus game? 

Without doubt that fixture is going to be an important one as Scotland look to start a winning run heading into our play-off tie to get into next summer’s Euros but for me Lawrence has to start as long as he remains fit and in-form. 

The confident striker is a goal threat and has done well in his for his first few appearances. He makes smart runs and plays well with those that play in and around him. We desperately need more of a focal point in the last third and maybe Shankland’s off the ball running and link up play can give us that!

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