‘Buzzing’ Lyndon Dykes won’t be overawed by first cap says Gary Holt
Describing Lyndon Dykes as “a kid in a candy shop” former boss Gary Holt is hoping the whole nation can share in the sweet taste of success.
Having earned his first call-up to the Scotland squad, the Aussie-born attacker is expected to make his debut against Israel tomorrow night as national manager Steve Clarke places his faith in the ex-Livingston player to provide a goal threat at the top end of the pitch.
Lawrence Shankland and Oli McBurnie both withdrew from the original squad, although the latter caused consternation in the Tartan Army ranks when he then featured in a pre-season friendly for Sheffield United.
As well as Dykes, Clarke has the option of deploying Oliver Burke or Cardiff City’s Callum Paterson, who was drafted in at the start of the week, while Ryan Christie has been used in a more advanced role for Celtic in recent games.
But, as more established candidates for that forward role have been ruled out, one by one, through inaction, injury or lack of fitness, Dykes, who was a talismanic figure for Livingston last term, weighing with 12 goals and ten assists as the West Lothian underdogs surprised many with their fifth place finish in the Premiership, has emerged as a real candidate to lead the line.
However, the man who saw Dykes graft, improve and thrive throughout his time at Almondvale says the country should not be worried about his lack of international experience, insisting Scotland is getting a player with recent game time and goals under his belt, having netted twice in three games for the Almondvale side this term.
And, following his recent move to English Championship side Queens Park Rangers, Holt says he is also a player who is brimming with self-confidence.
“The thing is we have actually played games [this season] and Lyndon played for us and scored a couple of goals. Then he has gone down to QPR and he has scored already in a game down there. So he’s up to speed,” said Holt. “I just think he’s a kid in a candy shop right now, it’s all new. He’ll be buzzing but he’s not going to be overawed.
“You might get someone else going in there who might think: ‘this is a bit much for me’. But he’ll just go in there and embrace it, it will be like water off a duck’s back to him. He’ll certainly enjoy it, that’s for sure.
“Having gone to QPR, this is another step up for him. But he has a freshness about him. He just wants to play football and just wants to be out there running about and trying his best.
“You give him a Scotland jersey and the players will appreciate what he does. Hopefully he’ll get the opportunity.”
An appearance in the dark blue tomorrow would definitely end the international tug-o-war over the 24-year-old, who was born on the Australian Gold Coast to Scottish parents.
That left the way clear for him to align himself to either his birthplace or the parental homeland, which also gave him his start in the professional game. And, with the formative years of his career spent at Queen of the South and Livingston, he said it was the debt of gratitude he felt towards the Scottish game that fuelled his decision. Although some gentle nudging from his former manager may also have swayed his feelings, with Holt declaring he will be “over the moon” if Dykes does feature in Clarke’s side.
“I had a conversation with him although at no point did I try to tell him which way to go,” said the Livingston boss. “But, I did say if he chose Scotland I would be even happier with him!”
And Holt believes Dykes has earned his shot, dismissing suggestions that Clarke just wanted to stake his claim before Australia could make a definitive move for him.
“I think everyone who knows how Steve is as a person knows he’s not that type. If he chooses to play Lyndon it will be on merit and if he doesn’t he’ll choose him in his next squads to give him that opportunity,” said Holt.
“Steve’s not the type to go on what other people say, he trusts his judgment and he trusts the information people like me gave him on Lyndon.
“The feedback we gave him was honest and open and, hopefully, in these games he’ll get the chance to show the country and Steve what he is all about.”
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