World Cup

Adams and Nisbet handed chance to impress Clarke

Tip off: Steve Clarke (pic: SNS Group).

Ché Adams and Kevin Nisbet are included in Steve Clarke’s squad for the first time as Scotland prepare to begin their FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.

Adams’ call-up is reward for his good form for Southampton this season, the striker netting seven goals in 28 appearances, with front man Nisbet scoring 12 times in the league for Hibs.

The Saints star was born in Leicester and represented England at under-20 level. He is also eligible to play for Antigua & Barbuda but has pledged his international allegiance to Scotland, qualifying through a maternal grandparent.

Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry return to the fold, with the latter being selected for the first time by Clarke after impressing on loan with KV Oostende in Belgium.

John Fleck is back in Clarke’s squad after returning from an injury which saw him miss out on a place in the squad in the final international window of 2020.

“Jack’s a player that I’ve known from my time working in Scotland,” said Clarke. “He’s shown a good maturity. He’s gone away to try and restart his career. He’s playing at a good level, game in, game out.

“Kevin’s shown this year that he’s a good goalscorer. I feel Kevin’s got the bit between his teeth. It’s an area where we don’t particularly excel – scoring goals. Hopefully Kevin can give us a little bit different.

“Che’s obviously someone that we tried to get before – when Alex McLeish was manager, I believe – four years ago now. He was a young man at the time. He’s matured a little bit more, played a few more games, got his move to the Premier League and done very well.

“Not too long ago, I got a little inkling or a little tip off that he was interested in choosing Scotland as his international country.”

This month’s opening qualifiers for Qatar 2022 are Scotland’s last scheduled matches before their European Championship games with Czech Republic, England and Croatia at this summer’s finals.

The Scots face Austria at Hampden Park on Thursday, 25 March in their opening qualifier before taking on Israel in Tel Aviv three days later and the Faroe Islands on Wednesday, 31 March back at Hampden.

Scotland squad:

Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Hearts), David Marshall (Derby), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers).

Defenders: Andrew Considine (Aberdeen), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Jack Hendry (KV Oostende), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Ryan Jack (Rangers), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City), Scott McTominay (Manchester United).

Forwards: Che Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle), Oli McBurnie (Sheffield United), Kevin Nisbet (Hibs).

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