Alex McLeish may turn to Steven Fletcher to help get Scotland out of their Nations League group.
Whether the Scots make it through to the last phase of the newly created tournament, which has the carrot of Euro 2020 qualification, will be determined by a November double header against Albania and Israel.
McLeish has admitted that his options in attack are not deep and he will keeping an eye on the form of Sheffield Wednesday forward Fletcher, whose last cap just over a year ago was as a substitute for Gordon Strachan in the Slovenia draw that ended the country’s World Cup hopes.
He said: “Steven Fletcher is now coming back into the scene at Sheffield (he scored two goals in September) and we’ll look at that one with a bit of interest.”
The return of Leigh Griffiths after what McLeish described as an “amicable” discussion between the two of them before the Celtic striker withdrew from his last squad would further increase options up front next month.
The only goals scored in the Israel and Portugal matches were a penalty kick in Haifa and a stoppage time Steven Naismith consolation at Hampden.
McLeish acknowledged that his job has become harder than when he first took over from Strachan, primarily due to a lack of goal-getters.
“It probably is because of losing a lot of the striker choice,” he said.
“That’s diminished and we’ve had to call up a lot of young players. Oli McBurnie came in from the 21s and he’s still a work in progress. We’re not exactly prolific but guys like Ryan Fraser can play a part and we have good competition in these type of areas. In one or two areas we need to toughen up.”
A mixture of call-offs and an unwillingness to be considered in the first place have become a concerning trend of late.
For one reason or another by the time of the Portugal friendly, Griffiths, Robert Snodgrass, Tom Cairney, James McArthur, Kieran Tierney, John Souttar, Charlie Mulgrew, Ryan Fraser and Scott McTominay were all unavailable.
Given the significance of the next two matches – both for him personally and the team as a whole – McLeish hopes his powers of persuasion are strong, particularly in the case of his conversation with Crystal Palace’s McArthur.
“Listen, we can try,” he said. “I would have liked James McArthur to have been with us from the beginning of the campaign because he’s one who knows his position and where to go on the pitch.
“There are a lot of the young guys who have played for us in recent months who are having to learn very fast.”
An ageing Strachan squad has probably veered too far towards the youthful end of the scale but McLeish insisted that has been more down to necessity than design.
Adding instant experience to his squad is easier said than done.
“If there was, I would,” he said.
“We’re not spoiled for choice.
“There is a place for more experienced players but Darren (Fletcher) hasn’t been playing football. I’ve spoken to him. Most of the guys who Gordon had haven’t been playing in the last six months.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love having guys with a bit of nous and experience who can help the team. I know what a difference that makes.
“I’ve got to keep encouraging the guys. The mistakes can’t continue but at the moment we don’t have a lot of choice.”
As well as the obvious impact on team selection, an offshoot of the withdrawal plague has been speculation that the Scotland camp is not as harmonious as it once was.
Not so, says McLeish.
“I believe there’s a good camaraderie between the players,” he pointed out. “I’ve seen the evidence of that in the last couple of get-togethers.
“The Leigh Griffiths one – it’s remarkable how it gets blown up.
“I said that I spoke to Leigh last week and we had what I thought was an amicable conversation.”
The image of McLeish that is being portrayed by those who want him replaced is of a football dinosaur, out of touch with the modern game.
He said: “I know that the social media network is rampant and I see all the little cartoons and stuff. It’s not a world I really want to get into.
“I don’t really read it. You’re kind of educating me on some vitriolic things that have been said. If you look at the social media network, I think it’s a place for that – a window for that.”
Internet comments are avoidable for McLeish but there is no escaping from the pressure he is now under.
“Of course you feel it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. That weekend was pretty horrible.
“You feel as if the world is going to cave in on you.
“You get a half decent sleep (with a sleeping pill!) and then you’ve got to go again.
“As Fergie said, it can be ‘football – bloody hell’.
“I’m still ambitious. I take inspiration off managers who have gone through similar times. That’s why I feel there’s a future for us.
“We always say in our team-talks that every game you have to prove yourself. Never ever think you’re the finished article. You need to look to be at your top level for every game. I know it doesn’t happen sometimes but at international level we’re trying to find consistency that has eluded us so far.
“There is no hiding place in the next one. That’s the game when we have to do it and make it all better.”
The five at the back formation that fell apart in Haifa was replaced by a 4-2-3-1 against Israel that, with players like Andy Robertson instantly more comfortable at Hampden, looked worth persevering with.
“It was a good shape,” said McLeish. “We were very compact. We controlled the first half. The movement of their wide players and full-backs was marshalled well by our full-backs and wide players.
“There was good discipline there. I’m not blind or daft. We persevered with the three and it didn’t work the other night but I don’t think that was strictly the main problem.
“We’ll have a look at whether the system was better than the one we used against Israel and Albania.”