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Scotland assistant boss Dyer underlines importance of final Euro 2020 qualifiers

The side has been hit by several withdrawals.

Andy Robertson is out of the Scotland squad (Ian Rutherford/PA)
Andy Robertson is out of the Scotland squad (Ian Rutherford/PA)

By PA Sport Staff

Scotland assistant manager Alex Dyer stressed the importance of their final two European Championship qualifiers after Andy Robertson was among three fresh withdrawals.

The skipper pulled out along with Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser and Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay. Leeds skipper Liam Cooper withdrew from the squad on Monday with a slight tear in his groin.

Celtic winger Lewis Morgan and Graeme Shinnie of Derby were called up on Tuesday morning and Hibernian centre-back Ryan Porteous was promoted from the Scotland Under-21 squad later in the day.

Robertson played a key role as Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-1 on Sunday while Fraser played 90 minutes as Bournemouth lost 2-1 at Newcastle on Saturday. McTominay was expected to withdraw after being carried off on a stretcher at the final whistle of United’s win over Brighton after picking up an ankle injury.

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Andy Robertson, second right, helped Liverpool to a crucial win on Sunday (Peter Byrne/PA)

With Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney already absent at the request of his club as he works his way back from long-term pelvic and groin problems, Celtic’s Greg Taylor looks set to feature at left-back despite only playing one game in the past three months.

Midfielder Shinnie can also play there although he had a torrid time at his old position when Scotland lost 3-0 against Kazakhstan in their opening qualifier.

That result left Scotland up against it in the group and they never recovered with a top-two finish beyond them ahead of their final two matches in Cyprus on Saturday and at home to Kazakhstan next Tuesday.

But Dyer has his sights set on moving up to third in Group I while building some momentum and confidence ahead of the play-offs in March.

Dyer said: “It is definitely not a dead rubber. You are representing your country which is the main thing.

“No matter who you play you are representing your country and you should be proud.

“The second thing is they are injured they are injured, you can’t do nothing about that.

“Andy is an outstanding full-back, one of the best in Europe if not the world.

“So he is a good captain so you will miss him but you have other players in the squad who need to step up and will step up and do a good job.

“We just have to concentrate on the ones who are here. It is part of football.

“We put a squad together. There is still another round of fixtures and we know we will get some withdrawals, that’s the way it is. We just have to adapt.”

Dyer insists the prospect of glory with Scotland is a key driver for him despite another failed group campaign coming to a close.

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Alex Dyer going for glory with Scotland (Ronnie Esplin/PA)

The Scots have not been at the finals of a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France and sit in fourth place in Group I with nine points from eight games, but Nations League success last autumn has given them a lifeline via the play-offs.

Assistant coach Dyer, who came in with boss Steve Clarke in March, said: “I knew it would be tough just for the history of the country, not being at finals for 20 years.

“We know what the job is all about. It is a pressure you put on yourself because you want to be part of something special.

“We take the job on because of that little bit of glory that you can get, that feel-good factor, the players, the supporters and the country wants, they want to get to a tournament and we want to be part of it, we want to be that group that does it. That’s why you are here.”

“I grabbed this job with both hands and you want glory. You want to go away thinking, ‘look what I’ve done, I’ve been part of this’.”

PA

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