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Five talking points ahead of Scotland's clash with Israel

Five talking points ahead of Scotland's clash with Israel
© Reuters
Steve Clarke's side travelled to the Middle East on the back of a 2-2 home draw with Austria.

Scotland face Israel in their second World Cup qualifier on Sunday.

Steve Clarke's side travelled to the Middle East on the back of a 2-2 home draw with Austria.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key talking points ahead of the game.

Familiar foes

Scotland celebrate
Scotland celebrate a shootout win over Israel (Andrew Milligan/PA)

This is the fourth meeting between the two teams this season and the sixth in the past 30 months. Scotland have lost twice in Israel during that run, the latest a narrow 1-0 defeat in November. Both games at Hampden in the autumn ended in draws with Scotland emerging victorious on penalties in the Euro 2020 play-offs. Expect another tight encounter between two teams who know each other so well.

McGinn role

Aston Villa's John McGinn started off in one of the two deeper midfield roles on Thursday, where he has recently been playing for his club, but showed his goal threat when he was moved forward later in the game. His sublime overhead kick earned Scotland a point and took his international tally to eight goals. Clarke has the likes of Callum McGregor and Kenny McLean available if he wants to push McGinn further forward from the start.

Open doors

Some players will be playing in front of their first crowd for a year with 5,000 supporters set to be present at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv. With Israel leading the way in terms of Covid-19 vaccination numbers, a partial crowd will cheer on the hosts.

Striking dilemma

Lyndon Dykes took well to international football in the autumn but he had a four-month goal drought with QPR before netting against Reading last weekend. The former Livingston forward looked below par against Austria, struggling to retain the ball and lacking his usual spring. Che Adams could get a bigger chance after coming on for his debut midway through the half, while Oli McBurnie and the uncapped Kevin Nisbet are options.

Looking for the win

Both sides are looking for their first victories of the group after Israel lost 2-0 at home to top seeds Denmark on Thursday. Clarke was keen to play down suggestions Scotland were already under pressure to collect their first win but anything less would leave them playing catch-up with Denmark already.

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Scotland manager Steve Clarke pictured on November 15, 2020
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Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

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