Gordon Smith praised Steve Clarke for solving the Scottish dilemma Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney.
However, the former Scottish Football Association (SFA) chief fears the national team boss has another conundrum to solve as youngsters Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson push to start.
Clarke has found a new way to make the most of his pair of world-class left-backs, with skipper Robertson pushed into a winger role and Tierney allowed to move forward on the overlap of the left d ‘a back Three.
This clever plan silenced those who said it was impossible to accommodate his two star defenders in the same roster.
But Smith believes the emergence of Chelsea teenager Gilmour and former Rangers youth academy teammate Patterson could leave Clarke with yet another headache.
The pair lack first-team experience but are full of potential, and there are calls for the two to be stepped up in the starting lineup for Monday’s Euro 2020 opener with the Czech Republic in Hampden. .
It would go against the Scottish boss’s notoriously conservative instincts, but Smith insists it’s time to be cautious.
The former Rangers frontman said: “I am really excited. It will be a fantastic tournament.
“We have a pretty tough squad but thanks to Steve Clarke’s work I’m more confident than I have been in the national team for a long time.
“He did well to sort out this Robertson-Tierney situation. You see Tierney straddling the center-back’s Robertson.
“I remember people saying he should only play one, but they both had to play, even though Tierney was right-back. You need your best players on the pitch. Tierney is exceptional. .
“But if you’re looking to bring out your best players, Gilmour and Patterson should also be considered.
“Certainly, if Scott McTominay is brought back in defense, Gilmour would go. He is an exceptional player.
“I first saw him at the age of nine in a Rangers-Celtic youth game and he ran the show.
“When he went to Chelsea I wondered about his physique but he seems to be dealing with it.
“It’s hard for Steve Clarke to see if he can fit in somewhere. You saw him the other night when he came against Luxembourg that he can play at this level.
“I thought young Patterson was exceptional when he went there the other night as well.
“Steve just needs to have the belief that they have the quality to do their job, whatever their age and experience. Okay, Patterson hardly played, but the ones he played for the Rangers were exceptional. It has quality and it is branded in Europe. “
“The Scottish team, a return to the golden age”
Scotland are about to taste their first tournament bite since 1998.
But Smith believes there is a whiff of the 1970s and 1980s in Clarke’s squad as he returned to Scotland’s golden age when the national team qualified for five Cups. world in a row with a backbone of stars based in England.
Smith – who also played for Kilmarnock and Brighton during his playing years – said: “When Steve Clarke was appointed I thought he was the right fit. Two years ago he took Kilmarnock to the third in the league Now they’ve been relegated There’s a difference.
“We have two home games against the Czechs and Croatia – that’s huge. Four of the top third teams qualify for the knockout stage, so there is a real chance we can qualify.
“The game against England at Wembley is exciting, especially if we win the first game.
“It’s a good time for us to play them because we probably have more players playing for big clubs at the highest level in England than we have had in some time.
“It wasn’t that long ago that Darren Fletcher was pretty much the only English Premier League player on our squad.
“It goes back to a time when Scotland was seen as a market for English clubs. Most of the top teams had Scottish players.
“Liverpool had Dalglish, Souness and Hansen. Man United had Albiston, McQueen and Jordan. I was the only Scotsman in Brighton!”