International boss blasts everyone for forgetting how good Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie is

Oli McBurnie has been lavished with praise by Scotland manager Steve Clarke, who thinks the centre-forward is becoming a major player for both club and country.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 11:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 12:05 pm

Speaking after naming the Sheffield United centre-forward in his latest international squad, Clarke admonished journalists attending its official unveiling for ignoring McBurnie’s progress with Chris Wilder’s side last term.

McBurnie, who helped United finish ninth in the Premier League, has scored six times in 40 appearances since arriving at Bramall Lane from Swansea City.

Reminding how some of the 24-year-old’s best performances came towards the end of the campaign, Clarke echoed Wilder’s belief that McBurnie’s form during ‘Project Restart’ demonstrates his growing maturity as a top-flight player.

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After being peppered with questions about Queens Park Rangers’ Lyndon Dykes, who could win his first cap during next month’s games against Israel and the Czech Republic, Clarke said: “We’re overlooking a little Oli McBurnie, who has a fantastic first season in the English Premier League with Sheffield United. Oli was a big player for them. I watched a lot of their games and he did very, very well.”

“He hasn’t hit that height yet with the national team, but sometimes it takes a little longer with the national team. Yeah, it’s great to have Lyndon on board but let’s not forget the other players we have.”

Charting McBurnie’s journey through the previous campaign, Wilder noted how the former Swansea City marksman’s influence improved when England’s leading teams returned to action in June following the Covid-19 pandemic. A quarter of McBurnie’s goals came during the final seven matches of the 2019/20 fixture schedule, with statistics confirming his effectiveness in aerial duels also improved following the enforced break. When Tottenham Hotspur were beaten at Bramall Lane in July, McBurnie won 60 per cent of his headers against a defence anchored by Davinson Sanchez of Columbia and England’s Eric Dier.

Although McBurnie, who is joined in Clarke’s plans by his United team mate John Fleck, missed Tuesday’s friendly at Dundee United, he is expected to feature when Wilder’s men face Derby County next week. United, who are training in Edinburgh, are exploring the possibility of staging another behind closed doors game against as yet unconfirmed opposition before heading back across the border.

Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United has been backed by Steve Clarke: Michael Regan/Getty Images

United are set to complete their preparations for September 14th’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers with a trip to Preston North End, but with the match at Tannadice being abandoned at half-time due to adverse weather conditions on Tayside, United are keen to tweak the programme mapped out by Wilder and his staff ahead of the trip to the Scottish capital.

“I don’t really read the stick that the players are getting,” Clarke said, responding to suggestions from the floor that McBurnie is not prolific enough to spearhead Scotland’s attack. “I thought Oli did well last season for Sheffield United and if he can bring that form into the international stage, then he will be a big player for Scotland now and in the future.”

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Scotland manager Steve Clarke is a big supporter of Oli McBurnie, the Sheffield United striker:Tim Goode/PA Wire.