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Steve Clarke was happy for Oli McBurnie to play in Sheffield United friendly

Derby County v Sheffield United – Pre-Season Friendly – Pride Park
(Image credit: Nigel French)

Steve Clarke has given his blessing to Oli McBurnie’s Scotland withdrawal after the striker’s appearance in a Sheffield United friendly raised eyebrows.

The striker played 45 minutes of United’s 2-0 pre-season win over Derby, two days after pulling out of the Scotland squad for the Nations League double header against Israel and Czech Republic.

Scotland boss Clarke said in a statement: “I spoke to (Sheffield United manager) Chris Wilder at the end of last week and he told me Oli hadn’t been training because he had 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 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 sports science team it made sense for everyone for Oli to stay at Sheffield and work on his fitness.”

The 24-year-old had missed United’s training-ground friendly win over Hearts on Friday.

Blades boss Wilder insisted that Scotland counterpart Clarke had given the green light for McBurnie to be involved in Derby.

“I spoke to Steve beforehand and he agreed with us that, given where Oli is at, he was better off being with us and doing this,” Wilder told the Sheffield Star.

“He was happy with everything and we kept him fully informed of everything. For me, and for him (Clarke) it makes perfect sense.”

Clarke is also without forwards Leigh Griffiths, Lawrence Shankland, Steven Naismith and Johnny Russell for a variety of reasons.

Lyndon Dykes is the only recognised centre-forward in the squad although wide man Oli Burke and late call-up Callum Paterson have also played in that position.