Scotland: Oli McBurnie does not deserve 'bad press' - Steve Clarke

Sheffield United's Oli McBurnie celebrates
Oli McBurnie helped Sheffield United finish ninth in England's Premier League

National head coach Steve Clarke says Sheffield United's Oli McBurnie is "a talented boy" who does not deserve the "bad press" he gets in Scotland.

Australia-born Lyndon Dykes has been called up to the squad for the first time to add competition for the striker role in two Nations League openers.

But Clarke points out that McBurnie is playing at "a really high level".

"He scored loads of goals in the English Championship," he pointed out on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"On the back of that, he got a great move and he had a very good season for Sheffield United in the English Premier League."

McBurnie scored six goals in 40 appearances as his side finished ninth in their first season back in the top flight.

He has yet to score in nine Scotland outings, but Clarke does not think the 24-year-old has suffered from the weight of expectation following his transfer from Swansea City.

"£20m is a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of things of what English clubs were spending at the time, it wasn't a lot," he said. "It was just a normal transfer from the English Championship to the Premier League, but the boy deserved his move because he scored a load of goals at Swansea.

"International football is another step up, a different step, and it could be that Oli's going to take a little bit of time to adjust and adapt to it. I look at the qualities he's got - good hold-up play, can link play and bring midfield players into it, not the quickest, but he's a good finisher when he gets in the box and he's very good in the air."

Scotland host Israel on 4 September, then play in the Czech Republic three days later, and Clarke insisted he would not be using the games to experiment before facing the Israelis again in a European Championship qualifier the following month.

He stressed he did not want to "put too much pressure" on Dykes after the 24-year-old's transfer from Livingston to Queens Park Rangers.

"People say we don't score goals, but we scored 11 in our last three games," Clarke pointed out.

He hopes striker Lawrence Shankland will return to action on Saturday against Kilmarnock from the "tweak of the ankle" that has sidelined the 25-year-old from Dundee United's latest four games.

Clarke points out that West Bromwich Albion winger Oli Burke can also play up front and had greater game time at the end of the season on loan at Alaves in Spain's top flight.

However, when asked about a possible return for Steven Fletcher, who has joined Stoke City after leaving Sheffield Wednesday, Clarke added: "At the start of last season, I had a chat with Steven Fletcher, he wanted to concentrate on his club career and that's where it finished."

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