Scotland boss throws his weight behind Sheffield United and Oli McBurnie

Steve Clarke, the Scotland manager, has endorsed Sheffield United’s decision to play Oli McBurnie during Tuesday’s friendly at Derby County - 48 hours after he withdrew from his country’s squad for Friday’s Nations League tie against Israel.

Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 6:00 am

McBurnie’s appearance as a second half substitute at Pride Park initially initially provoked a furore north of the border, where some supporters questioned his commitment to Clarke’s team before Chris Wilder explained the circumstances behind his involvement.

In order to reinforce that message, and aware that McBurnie endures a fractious relationship with sections of the Tartan Army, Clarke released a statement confirming he agreed with United’s approach.

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“I spoke to Chris Wilder at the end of last week and he told me Oli hadn’t been training because of a laceration in his foot that had become infected and that he wouldn’t be fit enough to play at international level.

“Chris is one of the most honest men in football and we had a good discussion about where Oli was at. People have to remember that there’s a world of difference between getting some minutes in a pre-season friendly and preparing for an international double header.

“After discussions with the medical team and the sports science team, it made sense for everyone for Oli to stay in Sheffield and work on his fitness.”

McBurnie’s absence from the forthcoming clash at Hampden Park and Monday’s trip to the Czech Republic will nevertheless be a huge disappointment for Clarke, who had talked-up the 24-year-old’s capabilities before unveiling his selections.

Scotland manager at Oriam, where Sheffield United trained last week: Craig Williamson / SNS Group

After completing 45 minutes of United’s win in the east Midlands, McBurnie is also expected to be named on the bench for Friday’s visit to Preston North End - United’s final warm-up outing before September 14th’s Premier League opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United (C) warms up prior to the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Everton FC at Bramall Lane last season: Peter Powell/Pool via Getty Images