McLean hammer blow for Scots' World Cup bid

Billy Gilmour is part of Scotland's World Cup but former Norwich City team mate Kenny McLean misses out through injury

Billy Gilmour is part of Scotland's World Cup but former Norwich City team mate Kenny McLean misses out through injury - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited

Kenny McLean’s season-ending toe injury at Norwich City is a blow for Scotland’s World Cup quest, says his national boss Steve Clarke.  

McLean was absent from the panel named by Clarke on Monday, that included both Grant Hanley and former Canaries' loanee Billy Gilmour, for a play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden on June 1.   

The winners then face Wales for a place in the finals later this year in Qatar.  

McLean broke his toe in the 3-2 Premier League defeat at Manchester United but played against Newcastle, before being pulled out in the warm up at Aston Villa last month.  

The 30-year-old has been a regular under Clarke, but also missed the delayed Euros last summer when he injured his knee in Norwich City’s Championship title-winning finale at Barnsley.  

"That is disappointing for us and disappointing for him as he is a crucial part of the squad,” said Clarke. "I'm disappointed for Kenny, who has missed out again. He missed out on the Euros with an injury and he's missed out again with a broken toe.”  

Clarke brushed off any suggestion Gilmour’s underwhelming season-long loan move to Carrow Road could have a negative impact on the Scots’ play-off bid.  

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The Chelsea youngster was at Carrow Road on Sunday in a watching role for the 5-0 Premier League defeat to Tottenham, and joined in the lap of appreciation from Dean Smith and his squad.  

Gilmour returned to his parent club last week to assess an ankle issue, but Clarke is not planning an arm around the shoulder when he meets up with the midfielder.  

“Not from me. Not from the Tartan Army,” he said, quoted by the Daily Record. “He has done well for us. He enjoys coming away to the camp, he enjoys the way we play and the way we utilise him in the team.  

“The club business is all part of the learning process for Billy. He has to learn football is not always sunshine and roses. You have difficult moments.  

“If he’s had a tough season, he will be all the better for it next season.”  

Clarke is ready for the political backdrop that will dominate the build up to Ukraine’s visit next week, following Russia’s invasion.  

“It’s good we are playing. We wanted the game to go ahead, no one wanted anyone to get a bye or to not play the match,” he said. “But I think you’ll find our lads will be motivated to get to Qatar. We’ve waited a long time for this situation. It’s difficult for a country like Scotland to qualify for a World Cup.  

“It’s difficult to put yourselves in this position, where we are two games away from going to Qatar. Myself, my staff and my players are all determined to be there.”