Scotland face Georgia at Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena (above) in Tbilisi this week in a must win match to keep them in the hunt for top spot in their Euro qualifiers group.
They travel to Georgia with five wins from their six group games but they’re looking to make amends after a recent string of friendly defeats.
Steve Clarke’s squad go into the game off the back of three straight losses, albeit at the hands of some European giants in Spain, England and France.
It’s the second worst run in Clarke’s tenure – the worst was between June and September 2019 when they lost four in row – twice to Russia and twice to Belgium.
Scotland, who have already qualified for the Euros in Germany next summer, find themselves level on points with group leaders Spain, trailing by only six goal difference.
Their job though has just got trickier after confirmation that the squad has been left depleted following a series of call-offs from influential players including striker Che Adams.
He’s been replaced by Heart’s striker Lawrence Shankland who’s in red hot form with 10 goals already this season.
One fan on ‘X’ (formerly twitter) gave his opinion on this change to the squad, saying: “Gutted for Adams, but it’s a good time to have Shankland reintroduced now that he has found his scoring boots again.”
Steve Clarke’s squad is ravaged with injury, with Angus Gunn, Kieran Tierney Aaron Hickey and captain Andy Robertson all missing out.
This brings an opportunity for two exciting young talents in Everton’s Nathan Patterson and uncapped Josh Doig, who will hope to see game time in this weeks fixtures.
Many fans had hoped to see Liverpool starlet Ben Doak be included in the squad, with one fan on social media saying: “We’ve already qualified. Why are the likes of Ben Doak and Robbie Ure not in the squad to get some experience?”
Georgia’s visit to Hampden in June saw Scotland come out 2-0 victors, with goals from Callum McGregor and Scott Mctominay seeing them well on their way to qualifying from what initially looked to be a tricky group.
However, their record in previous travels to Georgia wouldn’t fill any Scot with hope, having lost their last two games on their travels to the Georgian capital in 2007 and 2015.
With those defeats derailing two previous European qualifying campaigns – it is a monkey Scotland will hope to get off their back this week.
The Georgia manager Willy Sagnol’s danger man is world class winger Kvhicha Kvaratskhelia, a goal scorer in their 4-0 win over Cyprus last month.
Kvaratskhelia played a huge role in Napoli’s success last season, registering a combined 31 goals and assists, with the side winning the Italian league title this year – their first since Maradona led them to victory back in 1990.