Dykes a big loss to Australia, says Scotland great Miller

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Amidst the euphoria of Scotland’s dramatic qualification for next year’s European Championship, pangs of unrequited love engulfed the Socceroos hierarchy.

In just his sixth appearance for Steve Clarke’s drought breakers, Lyndon Dykes - the striker Graham Arnold and Rene Meulensteen assiduously wooed for Australia - showed what they’re now missing.

Dominant in the air, tireless in his application and deft in possession, the Gold Coast-born attacker was the embodiment of a modern-day target man as Scotland defeated Serbia on penalties yesterday in Belgrade to reach their first major tournament in 22 lean years.

Legendary Rangers and Scotland striker Kenny Miller, now assistant to Carl Robinson at Western Sydney Wanderers, believes Dykes is the answer to Clarke’s prayers and has made the number nine spot his own.

He also believes the forward he recommended to his friend, Queens Park Rangers coach Mark Warburton, is the one that got away for Australia.

“Dykes is physical, quick and mobile - and puts himself about,” said Miller.

“He’s quickly made that spot in the Scotland team his own, and it’s a position that’s been crying out for somebody to take by the scruff of the neck.

“He’s a handful all around and gives you that option to go direct, whilst also being a technically good footballer.

“It’s a loss for Australia for sure but it’s also important not to heap too much pressure on him so early in his international career, and portray him as a kind of saviour.

“I’m sure Australia would love to have him but these things happen - he had a big decision to make and now it’s boosted his profile and given himself the chance to show what he can do on a world stage.”

Arnold and Meulensteen were convinced Dykes, 25, had a foot in the Socceroos camp until his switch to the Championship, with a change of heart kicking in when he arrived at Loftus Road from Livingston before the start of the season on a $4 million deal.

Miller, who scored 18 goals in 69 appearances for Scotland, isn’t convinced the QPR move sealed the deal in terms of opting for Scotland, the land of Dykes’ parents and extended family.

“Who knows?” he added. “But I suspect the decision was purely down to him (and nothing to do with pressure from QPR to limit the long distance involved in representing Australia).

“He’s shown he can take that step (with three goals in nine games) and now he’s proving he can also do it at international level.

“He’s at the stage of his career now where you don’t know where he’s going to end up.”

Dykes now has group games against Czech Republic, England and Croatia to look forward to at Euro 2021, with two of those at Hampden Park.

And Dykes, who has scored twice so far for his adopted country, will be back in action again as group leaders Scotland tackle Slovakia in the Nations League on Monday (AEDT).

He revealed how hard it was to make the call after the Serbia game, saying that choosing Australia would have been “taking the easy route”.

“It was really hard," he told the BBC. “You look at Australia as an easy route really. You can go to World Cups, you can qualify for things easier, just stuff like that.

"A lot of their players … I’m looking at their teams, I’m looking at my career, I’m looking at my opportunity to play.

"So, at the end of the day I kind of went with my gut feeling and my heart. 

“I know I was born in Australia but I think from the get-go I was always saying Scotland in my head and even in my gut.

"I said to my wife and said 'Scotland', and she said 'are you sure?', and I said 'yeah'. We went back and forth.

"So it was a really hard decision but it’s something I do not regret one bit because I’ve loved every moment of it.

"Being in Australia I had opportunities to play professional but I always got turned down. I always was not good enough for this and that and then obviously coming over here it gave me my whole career."

Source SBS The World Game