Scotland boss defends Sheffield United striker

SCOTLAND manager Steve Clarke has backed Sheffield United forward Oli McBurnie to come good on the international front and has urged critics to get off his back.

IMPROVEMENT: Sheffield United's Oliver McBurnie has a joke during warm up at Bramall Lane. Picture: Peter Powell/NMC Pool/PA

The 23-year-old has been named in the Tartan Army squad for the double-header with Israel and the Czech Republic.

New £2m QPR signing Lyndon Dykes, who has rejected Australia to play for Scotland, is being tipped to potentially usurp McBurnie in the pecking order, with the latter having failed to score in nine appearances.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

McBurnie, who briefly became the most expensive Scottish player ever when joined United last summer, had endured a difficult start to his international career.

Last September, he forced to apologise to Clarke and the national squad after a clip emerged where he appeared to say the Scotland set-up was 's***e'.

McBurnie claims his words were completely taken out of context – but accepted that he was in the wrong even joking about it.

Clarke believes the striker, who hit six top-flight goals last term and earned credit for his displays, will ultimately prove himself with the Hampden faithful after an unfortunate opening.

He said: “We are talking quite a lot about Lyndon Dykes. We are overlooking a little Oli McBurnie, who had a fantastic first season in the English Premier League with Sheffield United.

“Oli was a big player for them. I watched a lot of their games and he did very, very well.

“He hasn’t yet hit that height with the national team – but sometimes it takes a little longer with the national team.

“I don’t really read the stick that players are getting. I judge them on my own eyes and their merits. I thought Oli did well last season and if he can bring that form into the international stage, then he will be a big player for Scotland now and in the future.”