Steve Clarke Did Us A Favour Tonight, But Not The One We Needed.

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As I write this it’s 0-0 in Russia, where Scotland has actually put in a very spirited performance, which a lot of us didn’t really expect.

The national team is pretty much dead as far as this group goes, so this wasn’t generating a lot of excitement.

What did raise some eyebrows was the starting eleven, which had only Callum McGregor from our club in it. There was no place for Forrest or Christie. Our new boy Greg Taylor – who fans haven’t seen a single minute of football from – is also on the bench.

Forrest needed a break and although Ryan probably doesn’t need one as much I am, nevertheless, grateful to Steve Clarke for leaving both men out.

I know he didn’t do it for us – Clarke owes us nothing at all.

But I am grateful anyway.

The player I’d have liked him to leave out, of course, is Callum McGregor.

He started, and I must admit to sighing in frustration at that news, although I cannot fault Clarke for wanting his best midfielder on the park. The loss of McGregor would be as keenly felt by Scotland as by Celtic, and that should tell you how pivotal a footballer he has become.

As I said in a previous piece, Steve Clarke owes us nothing here. He has responsibilities beyond doing us favours, and he won’t. But I think it is apparent to everyone that Callum needs benched for a wee while, for his own good and the good of both teams.

I said in that piece that it’s Celtic’s responsibility to make sure that our players are properly rested and ready for the big games that are coming … but I hope that Clarke thinks ahead if Scotland fails to get a result tonight.

The next game, against San Marino at Hampden, becomes a write-off … and there’s no need whatsoever for Callum to feature in it.

This isn’t a favour to us, it’s a favour to the player … and it will help Clarke long term.

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