Steve Clarke should consider giving clubmates Scott McKenna and Mikey Devlin a run out together for Scotland.
The Aberdeen defenders were on the field together for all of five minutes in Saturday’s 2-1 win in Cyprus and it struck me that there is an obvious opportunity to improve the cohesion of the defence by pairing them together.
I would say Saturday was a decent performance but in no way would it be up there as one of the very best I’ve seen from Scotland.
The one thing which really stood out for me was how suspect we looked defensively. We concede too many chances to the opposition for my liking.
The performance was decent but it is the end result which matters and I am sure Scotland manager Clarke felt a lot happier about his team after seeing them record back-to-back wins with their victory in Nicosia.
But I’m concerned about our defence.
McKenna, with 13 appearances for his country, has more than the rest of the back four which played alongside him at the weekend added together.
He is still learning himself and it is a big ask to put that responsibility on him at this early stage of his international career.
It is not that any of the back four were particularly poor on Saturday but Declan Gallagher was making his debut while Greg Taylor’s appearance was his second, and Liam Palmer’s Scottish caps now stand at four.
With so little understanding between them, it is natural that Scotland are going to concede opportunities to the opposition in games.
We’re fortunate Cyprus didn’t make more of the chances they had in the game.
They scored what looked a legitimate goal for me before Ryan Christie’s opener only for officials to miss the fact the ball had crossed the line, and they should have scored with the diving header they created late in the game.
Better teams most certainly will punish us given those sort of chances in the future.
That’s why making the most of the club connection is worth considering.
I understand Declan Gallagher is a very good young player with a promising future ahead of him but I just wonder whether the McKenna-Devlin partnership would offer a little more stability.
It’s worth a shot at the very least and I guess we’ll have a better idea of whether Clarke sees it that way when he names his side to face Kazakhstan tomorrow.
Even training with the same player every day builds up an understanding and as the Scotland boss will now realise, time on the training pitch is precious at international level.
The defence is such an important area of any team and, given Clarke has built a reputation on being organised and having a miserly defence in his teams, it amazes me that Scotland can be so vulnerable at times.
If you had asked me what I expected from a Scotland team under Clarke when he was appointed the first thing I would have said was I expected the defence to improve, but the number of goals we have conceded has been a concern.
There are a lot of reasons for that, the top one being the constant chopping and changing of the back four due to injuries, but one obvious way to strengthen an inexperienced backline is to have players who play with each other on a regular basis in there.
I know from my playing career the value and importance of having a clubmate beside me when I played for Scotland.
I played 65 times for my country and I’d hazard a guess around 50 of them came with my Aberdeen central defensive partner Alex McLeish by my side.
I’d estimate Jim Leighton was behind us in goal for most of those appearances too.
The advantage that gave all three of us cannot be stressed enough.