Scottish Supporters Network

Hosted by Supporters Direct Scotland

Strengthening Scottish Football
SDS Logo

Can We Fit Kieran Tierney Into The Scotland Team?

Date: 16th December 2018

It’s always the same with Scotland, we struggle to fill certain positions and then have a glut of talent that can easily fill a certain role.

At the moment, we’ve got two terrific left-backs in Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney. Actually we have another very good left sided fullback in Leeds United’s Barry Douglas, although I think Robertson and Tierney are on another level.

When Scotland boss Alex McLeish made Andy his captain, it was pretty obvious that the Liverpool defender was going to be his first choice left-back.

You can see why he made that choice. The former Queen’s Park and Dundee United man has met every challenge in his career and conquered it. He’s gone from Scotland’s bottom tier to starring in a Champions League final!

He’s consistently doing well at Anfield, both in the English Premier League and in Europe. No Liverpool player has made as many assists as Andrew this season in the two major competitions.

Like Robertson, Tierney is a top left-back and gives his all. So we need to find a way of getting both in our team.

So can where will we play Kieran?

Well McLeish has tried to play with three at the back and have the Celtic man on the lefthand side of that three man defence.

The team looked out of sorts defensively in Israel as Scotland lost 2-1 to the hosts. Since then we’ve played a further two competitive games and reverted back to a flat back four. We won those two ties and looked better in defence.

That showed us that we don’t have great depth in personnel to change our formation just to accommodate both Robertson and Tierney.

Can Kieran Tierney play as a centre-back in a back four?

Tierney has a good defensive mind and is resilient enough to give it his best shot but we’ve got to remember that this is international football. With that in mind, I think the fact he doesn’t play in that position at Celtic would count against him.

Make a mistake as a fullback and you aren’t putting your side in as much danger as you would if you were a centre-half making a mistake.

In certain games, I think Tierney in alongside a veteran like Christophe Berra could work but I’d be nervous if he partnered a young centre-back like a Scott McKenna or a David Bates in a vital fixture.

Could we move Andy Robertson further forward and have Tierney as the defender?

Well if you’re going to do that, then it all depends on the formation. In Scotland’s last win over Israel at Hampden, Big Eck went with a 4-3-3 and you couldn’t have Robertson in a three man midfield.

Now they did play with a 4-1-4-1 against Albania in the Nations League and we won 4-0. A big part of that was due to the wide players; James Forrest and Ryan Fraser. Both are having cracking seasons with their clubs and they grabbed three goals between them that night in Shkodër.

I don’t see why we’d drop either of those two in-form wingers to play Robertson out of position.

Could Tierney become Alex McLeish’s first choice right-back?

This is probably the best call at this moment in time.

Former Scotland gaffer Gordon Strachan played the Celtic youngster out there, towards the end of his tenure, and the twenty-one year old did well enough out there to suggest he can play there more regularly for his nation.

Strachan was very complimentary when discussing Kieran’s versatility with BBC Scotland:

“He’s brilliant, “

“I asked him if he wanted to play right-back and he just said ‘yeah’. It wasn’t even a conversation. Then he played centre back against England; not a problem to him.”

Celtic legend Danny McGrain was another full-back that could play on either side and he managed to be just as consisted on his weaker side. That’s because he possessed a footballing brain, natural skill and determination. Traits I believe Kieran shares with his current Celtic coach.

Scotland also have an issue with that position.

Callum Paterson played there in our last game and he was found wanting. He’s good on the front foot but the Cardiff City man was struggling to win any tackles.

Kilmarnock star Stephen O’Donnell is a fine player in the Scottish Premiership but he has looked a bit average at times on the international stage.

Personally, I’d go with Kieran Tierney as the right-back for our next game and see if the Celtic defender can shine on the right side. I think he’ll show that he’s got the skill-set needed to fill in and do a great job on his weaker side.

If we can get both Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney into our starting eleven and playing well, then our team will be far superior for it and it’s as simple as that!

By Scott Johnston (

Posted in: Latest News