ALEX McLEISH insists he will solve the Oliver Burke mystery before Thursday’s Euro 2020 qualifying kick-off against Kazakhstan in Astana.

The international gaffer has vowed to find the on-loan Celtic forward’s best position for the international team.

Burke, 21, has been in impressive form at the champions since arriving in a temporary deal from Championship outfit West Brom in January.

He has mainly been played up front in the Parkhead side – even though he is a right winger – and has scored four goals in 14 appearances.

Big Eck has been pleased to see the progress of the pacy attacker whose last appearance for his country was in a friendly against Canada at Easter Road two years ago.

The international supremo is hopeful he can figure out the most effective position of Burke who is Scotland’s most expensive player following two big-money moves concerning RB Leipzig and the Hawthorns side that have totalled almost £30million.

McLeish, speaking to the Evening Times, admitted: “He’s a little bit of a conundrum. He can play wide and some people think that’s his best position. He’s also played for Celtic through the middle in certain games.

“But in certain moments we’re going to try and use as much common sense as possible to get the best out of Oli.

“We don’t think he’s a hold-up man. We think he’s got other things in his locker.

“We’ll be looking for the right opportunities to unleash him and play him in whatever position we feel will get the maximum out of him.

THE EYES HAVE IT…Oliver Burke is on the ball against Lithuania in 2016.

“We’ve spoken about it. I’m not saying that he’ll not start at centre-forward in one of the games or whatever, but we believe he’s versatile.”

Burke started for Scotland under Gordon Strachan in their World Cup qualifiers for Russia 2018 against Malta and Lithuania in 2016 after he had moved to the Bundesliga giants from from Nottingham Forest for £13 million.

But the Kirkcaldy-born star has struggled to fulfil his potential since then and has fallen out of the national set-up.

McLeish added: “There’s nothing like getting your confidence back. Sometimes you do things on the park and you don’t think about it, you just do it because the confidence is there.

“And then, when you lose confidence, you wonder where it went and how you get it back and no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t come back.

“Coming to Celtic, a team that is expected to win every week, he now knows about a winning mentality.

“I’m not saying he didn’t get that at his other clubs, but at Celtic, it’s a different kettle of fish.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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