Dundee United legend Maurice Malpas believes a fit and firing Lawrence Shankland is a stick on for Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad.
Malpas, who won 55 caps and represented his country at three major tournaments, believes Shankland is exactly what the Scots need heading into next summer’s finals.
However, the 58-year-old ex-Scotland U/21 coach says the United hitman must rediscover his scoring touch soon if he is to be a part of Steve Clarke’s plans.
Shanks, prolific in the lower leagues the previous three seasons, has only managed two goals in nine appearances for the Terrors in a campaign hampered by injury and recent blunt team displays.
Malpas reckons that scoring rate will need to improve if the 25-year-old is to be a part of games against Croatia, the Czech Republic and England next year.
“First and foremost, he needs to do well for the club. That’s his motivation ‘I need to do well for Dundee United’,” the former Tangerines defender said.
“It’s simple for him – he just needs to score goals. If he gets himself into positions to get chances and take them, he’ll be judged on that and nothing else.
“He’s a goalscorer so they need to get the ball in the box for him.
“If United can do that and he’s scoring goals, he’s a stick on to go.
“That’s what Scotland need, we’ve always struggled for guys who score goals so if Lawrence can batter them in for Dundee United then he’ll be there.
“You’ve got to be doing well at your club but half the time your club has to be performing as well.
“You get very few players in a Scotland team when their club is at the bottom of the league.
“United haven’t been creating a lot of chances, so Lawrence hasn’t been getting much opportunity to score but I’m sure if they keep developing as a team he’ll be there to score.
“He needs to keep his confidence up and have belief he will start scoring again.”
Our nation is smiling again after victory in Serbia
Following a penalty shootout play-off victory in Serbia last Thursday night, Malpas was delighted to see Scotland end 23 years of hurt and return to the biggest stage of international football.
He has been impressed with the job boss Clarke has done and feels his team have lifted the mood of the nation.
“It’s long overdue and it puts a smile on the faces of everybody in Scotland,” he added.
“We hear our game being criticised left, right and centre but Thursday night’s performance and the rewards they get from that should quieten one or two people up.
“It was the best performance we’ve put in for a wee while so, hopefully, people start sitting up and taking notice.
“Everybody was spot on and that’s how Scotland have to be to win a game. We won’t win with one or two players playing well, it’s got to be as a team.
“I’ve been impressed with what Clarky’s done, big time. He’s made his mind up on how he wants to play and how he wants the team to shape up.
“He’s drummed it into the players, and it hasn’t been particularly pretty to watch, but at the end of the day it’s about being effective.
“The last few games we’ve been a wee bit more direct which I think has helped them instead of playing a lot of square, short passes.
“They’ve been getting the ball forward to the big lad (Lyndon) Dykes up front causing mayhem, wee Ryan Christie was the best player on the park by a mile and John McGinn was just annoying.
“He’s got them playing how he wants them and in a manner which probably suits them. It’s just a case of getting on with it now and enjoying the Nations League before they go in June.”
Scotland in for a great experience at finals next summer
Malpas recalls fond memories of his tournament experiences and insists the Scotland team and the Tartan Army, if they’re able to attend, will have a ball on and off the pitch.
He continued: “We had plenty of laughs and jokes. It’s amazing how you bond when you’re away for a period of time.
“I think the squad has been quite settled and I’m sure it’ll stay that way. I don’t think he’ll be bringing a lot of new guys in as much as there’ll be plenty hoping they can get into it.
“It’s a fantastic time going away when the focus is on you as a team. You get a buzz but it’s a laugh and a carry on as well.
“I’m sure there’ll be one or two guys that keep everybody going and there’ll be quiet ones as well who you only hear on the pitch.
“The build-up, the atmosphere and to actually get out on the pitch is a great experience.”