Callum Paterson: Cardiff's ex-Hearts defender 'can be foil for Scotland attackers'

Callum Paterson celebrates his winner for Cardiff City against Brighton last Saturday
Callum Paterson (centre) scored the winner for Cardiff against Brighton last Saturday
Nations League League C, Group 1: Albania v Scotland
Venue: Loro Borici Stadium, Shkoder Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Callum Paterson could be the ideal foil for Scotland's attacking talent to thrive in their Nations League double-header, believes John Robertson.

Versatile former Hearts defender Paterson has won his previous nine caps at right-back or right wing-back.

But he has played as a lone striker for Cardiff City recently, and scored three goals in his last four games.

"Paterson is athletic, really good in the air, can hold the ball up, and has a goal in him as well," Robertson said.

"He can stretch defences, and if we do that, we have a plethora of players who can play off him - Ryan Fraser, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie, James Forrest - and Stuart Armstrong is pretty good at getting from middle to front too.

"There is plenty of energy and plenty of legs there to go and excite the crowd. We need to excite the Scotland fans. There is a malaise about Scotland at the moment. We seem pedestrian and don't go at teams."

Alex McLeish's squad fly to Albania on Friday ahead of Saturday's match in Shkoder, with a home match against Israel at Hampden on Tuesday concluding their Nations League group games.

Johnny Russell, the recalled Steven Fletcher, Oliver McBurnie and Matt Phillips are the other striking options in the party, with Steven Naismith and Leigh Griffiths both sidelined.

'Let Robertson and Tierney switch positions'

Hearts legend Robertson, who won 16 caps for Scotland, believes McLeish should revert to a back four, play a deep-lying midfielder - "maybe someone like Graeme Shinnie" - in front of them, with "five players with real energy further forward".

"I would play either Paterson or the young lad McBurnie - a big, up-and-at-em striker - up front and with those four lads behind them, we have got more more than enough," Robertson, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager, told BBC Sportsound.

"As a nation, with the players we have got and the quality they possess, we have to go with a mind-set that we are going to be really positive and beat Albania.

"If we can find the right formula, give them the freedom to take the shackles off and just go at teams, there is no reason why the likes of Forrest, Christie, McGregor, Armstrong, John McGinn when he is fit, Paterson, Shinnie, plus Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, can't cause problems for the opposition."

Robertson has a novel solution to the conundrum - faced by previous head coach Gordon Strachan, who played Tierney at right-back, and now McLeish, who has deployed Tierney as a centre-back - of how to fit "two outstanding players in the same position" into the side.

"What is wrong with playing a back four and saying to them, 'Kieran, you are going to start the first 15 minutes at left-back, Andy, you are going to play forward a bit. Go at them for 15-20 minutes and when you've done that, drop back and let Kieran have a go'," Robertson opined.

"They are both exceptional players in the last third going forward for Celtic and Liverpool, and they are both used to somebody playing in front of them. So when they drift inside and allow each other to go past, they can actually just switch over positions. One can have a rest at left-back for a little while the other one forages forward.

"They are both good defenders but both terrific in the last third of the pitch. So instead of playing the two of them out of position, why not play them both at left-back, but just one of them a bit further forward, and switch over when you're ready?"

My Scotland team to face Albania

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