WHEN I started out as a Scotland player, the three strikers around the squad in those days were Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish and Joe Jordan. The three strikers in Steve Clarke’s first Scotland squad are Johnny Russell, Marc McNulty and Eamonn Brophy.

I mean this as no disrespect to those players, who are all good players and professionals. But it does make you wonder just where we have gone wrong when it comes to producing attacking talent.

I don’t like looking back all the time, and there is a danger you can peer into the past with rose-tinted spectacles. But you can’t really argue that any of the current crop of strikers would have gotten anywhere near that squad, never mind the team.

In fact, the striker that the country is now so desperate to see return to action, Leigh Griffiths, probably wouldn’t have got anywhere near our team either, as good as he is.

The most important thing for Leigh right now is just getting back to playing football and getting back to his best as soon as he can.

He can be so important for Celtic next season, as illustrated by Neil Lennon saying earlier in the week that he could save the club a hefty transfer fee on a striker if he can get back firing on all cylinders. I would say though, that Scotland’s need for Leigh is far greater than Celtic’s.

The trouble is, nobody knows when exactly he will be back. It’s not as if he has a physical ailment you can put a timescale on, and the fact that his country is crying out for a striker comes a distant second to his own health and wellbeing. Let’s hope it isn’t too long before we see him back in the dark blue, but it has to be in his own time.

The shortage of options up front aside, I think that Scotland will have enough about them to see off the challenge of Cyprus tonight. It goes without saying that we simply have to win the game.

There were very few surprises in Clarke’s first squad, and what comes as absolutely no surprise is that the team’s success will continue to largely depend upon the form of two Celtic players, who are just as key to their country as they have become for their club.

James Forrest and Callum McGregor were the two best players in Scotland last year by some distance, and Forrest rightly swept the board in the end of season awards. You just have to look at his five goals in two games for Scotland during the ultimately successful UEFA Nations League campaign to see how pivotal a player he can be for his country.

I understand that for some fans, international football can be an unwelcome distraction, but I have always liked to see Celtic players doing well for Scotland. I’m sure a lot of Rangers supporters are the same, but the truth is there isn’t really anyone you can see in the Rangers ranks who could get into this Scotland squad since Allan McGregor retired. Their best players, like Alfredo Morelos, play for different nations.

You could make an argument for Ryan Jack, but midfield is where Scotland are at their strongest.

Any notion that Rangers players won’t get a look in under Clarke because he has had run-ins with them in the past though is nonsense. He was the Kilmarnock manager at that time, and his priority was to his club alone.

Now he will make decisions in the best interests of the country, and if there are Rangers players who can help the team, I have no doubt that they will be in there.