SCOTLAND’S chances of qualifying for their first major tournament since France ’98 may have been improved by the postponement of the Euro 2020 play-offs one former internationalist has claimed.

The national team were due to take on Israel in the Path C semi-final at Hampden this evening before football across the world was suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

UEFA, who have delayed the finals until 2021, have provisionally pencilled in a June 4 date for the match and the other meeting between Norway and Serbia in Oslo.

However, with medical experts predicting the Covid-19 outbreak in the United Kingdom still might not have peaked by then there is no prospect of the fixture going ahead as scheduled.

But Kevin Gallacher, the former Dundee United, Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United player who won 53 caps for his country and played in the Euro 2000 play-off against England, feels the delay may ultimately work in Steve Clarke’s favour.

John McGinn, the Aston Villa midfielder who netted seven goals in qualifying, has been sidelined with a fractured ankle since December and Kieran Tierney, the Arsenal left back, hasn’t played this year due to a dislocated shoulder. Both were set to miss the Israel game.

Elsewhere, Scott McTominay had only made three starts for Manchester United in 2020 since recovering from the knee injury he suffered against Newcastle United back on Boxing Day.

Gallacher, who now works as a pundit and co-commentator for the BBC and BT Sport, has seen all three men in action in the 2019/20 campaign and believes having them fully fit and available for selection will improve Scotland’s chances of progressing to the finals next year greatly.

“It gives us a massive opportunity to get all these guys back fit again,” he said. “I am sure Israel will be in the same boat and will get a few lads back too.

“But Steve should be able to call up key men who have been training regularly and playing games when the match is eventually played. That could be a big factor in getting us to the finals in 2021.

“It’s been a while since Scotland have had a large contingent of players at top flight English clubs. But now we do. Having guys playing their club football at a high level down here definitely benefits the national team. I found that during my career.

“Scott is a very good player and has done superbly at United. I hadn’t seen much of John, but I saw a couple of games he was involved in live this season and immediately thought: ‘Wow!’

"If you have got these guys playing at a high level in England it obviously helps them when they make the step up, and it is still a step up, to international football.

“Kieran has had a difficult time at Arsenal because of his injury, but everybody knows about his quality. If these guys are fit, training regularly and playing games when the play-off takes place then Scotland will have a better chance of doing well and getting to the finals.”