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CLARKE HIT BY PROBLEM PILE-UP

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JAMES FORREST and Greg Taylor, who missed Celtic 1-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox yesterday, have been ruled out of the Scotland squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifying triple-header.

The crocked Hoops duo will be forced onto the sidelines for Wednesday’s tie in Denmark, Saturday’s encounter with Moldova at Hampden and the trip to Austria on Tuesday as Steve Clarke’s side go in search of crucial points as they attempt to reach Qatar next year.

Gers youngster Nathan Paterson also sat out the Glasgow derby because of Covid-related issues and will miss the games against the Danes. Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, who sat out his team’s 1-1 home draw against Brentford on Saturday after testing positive, is also out.

Clarke is refusing to hit the panic button, but he will also have to cope with the withdrawals of Manchester United anchorman Scott McTominay and Southampton playmaker Stuart Armstrong.

The international gaffer also revealed that set-piece coach Austin MacPhee, who had just been added to his backroom staff last week, “has picked up Covid” and will miss next month’s three games.

Hearts coach and former Scotland attacker Steven Naismith has been drafted in to help.

OUT…Austin MacPhee’s Scotland international stint is ko’d.

Clarke, who will not draft in any new players, told Sky Sports News: “It is a completely different blow for me.

“I was hoping I would have a new coaching team in place. At the very last minute I asked Steven Naismith who I know as a player to step up and become an extra pair of eyes on the training pitch.

“He will be here for this camp.”

Clarke’s side are second in Group F after three games, four points behind leaders Denmark.

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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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