How COVID-19 scuppered Scotland’s bid to snatch Aussie striker Dykes

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The coronavirus lockdown has inadvertently kept alive Australia’s hopes of fending off Scotland to win the allegiance of dual-nationality striker Lyndon Dykes.

Livingston forward Dykes, 24, was on course to be named in Steve Clarke’s squad for Scotland’s European championship play-off against Israel back in March, before COVID-19 sent football into hibernation.

Had the man from the Gold Coast played even a single minute of the deferred match, he would have been lost to Australia forever.

Instead, $4 million-rated Dykes - who is being monitored by Celtic, Rangers and half a dozen championship clubs - remains open to the possibility of playing for the land of his birth when international football resumes in the coming months.

With 12 goals in 33 games for Scottish Premier League club Livingston, Dykes has made his mark in an eye-catching first full season in Scotland’s top division.

He candidly acknowledges just how close he came to pulling on a Navy Blue shirt.

“I had a long chat with Steve Clarke and he knew it was a hard decision for me, and he certainly didn’t put me under any pressure,” Dykes told The World Game.

“The game (against Israel) didn’t go ahead. But obviously if you get capped by a country (in a FIFA tournament at senior level) you can only play for them.

“It’s crazy with the virus going on how things change so quickly - maybe it’s changed the future (for me).

“If it hadn’t happened, perhaps I’d already have been capped (by Scotland).

“But everything happens for a reason and I just want to go back to doing what I do best now and hopefully kick on even more.”

 

Dykes, whose parents hail from Dumfries, has been in dialogue with Socceroos coach Graham Arnold and his assistant Rene Meulensteen for several months.

Both have mapped out a pathway for the predator, who just four years ago was playing for Gold Coast Premier League side Surfers Paradise Apollo.

“I’ve spoken to Graham and Rene as well as Steve Clarke, and it’s a matter now of seeing what happens when international football starts up again. Hopefully the interest (in me) is still there then,” he said.

“It’s a matter of sorting out a decision when the time comes.

“It’s hard to say what will happen. I have told both sets of managers my thoughts, and I now have to wait and see.

“Graham seems like a really good guy, and I met Rene in person.

“He came up to Scotland and we had a coffee after our 2-2 draw with Celtic (in early March).

“He’s a great guy as well, and just went through what they’re trying to achieve with the national team. Their philosophy, what they’re trying to implement and future camps. That sort of stuff.

“I got a good vibe. Not too many players get this sort of opportunity (to play for two countries) and it’s a big decision because I’m ambitious to do the best I can at both club and international level.”

Dykes’ sister Hollie was a Melbourne Commonwealth Games gymnast for Australia back in 2006 and is urging him to go for the green and gold, while his Scottish parents are remaining impartial.

“There’s no pressure from them - they’re good with whatever happens but my sister is a bit different,” said Dykes, who has a Scottish wife and a son born in Scotland.

With so many clubs circling, Dykes admits he wants to push his career to the highest peaks possible.

“There’s been a bit of talk and a few clubs interested but I’ve not heard anything (concrete),” he said.

“It’s good to be talked about but I don’t read too much into it.”

Dykes has two years left on his contract and with the SPL now done and dusted he can look back on a “very good season”.

“I’m really enjoying my time at Livi,” he said.

“But I’m also confident I can push on and reach an even higher level at a bigger club.

“I’m backing myself internationally as well and I think I can keep learning and improving.

“I want to look back when I retire and know that I’ve pushed as hard as I can in my career.

“It’s crazy when you look back. They are a lot of players out there who’ve been at academies and big clubs when they were younger, playing football for so many years.

“But I’m new to the pro scene and have come from nowhere really.

“I just kinda played Saturday league and mucked around, and now I’m here (via Queen of the South).

“Once I got that sniff of it, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”