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2T1GCCT Fir Park, Motherwell, UK. 13th Oct, 2023. UEFA Under-21 Euro 2025 Qualifier Football, Scotland U21s versus Hungary U21s; Ben Doak of Scotland Credit: Action Plus Sports/Alamy Live News

Ben Doak training absence explained as manager faces “hard decision”

Having been named in Scotland’s provisional squad for Euro 2024, Ben Doak has been missing from training but could still make his debut next week.

Doak has spent most of 2024 recovering from a lateral meniscus (knee) injury that required surgery.

Having returned to full Liverpool training at the end of the season, though, the uncapped international was included in manager Steve Clarke’s provisional Scotland squad.

Despite his return to fitness, he has been missing from some of Scotland’s sessions, but assistant boss John Carver has now updated us on the player’s status.

Quoted by the Scotsman, Carver said Doak’s absence was precautionary, declaring him and other missing players “on target and fit and ready to go.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Liverpool's Ben Doak (R) speaks with manager Jürgen Klopp as he is substituted during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He continued: “It’s not like the old days when a young lad would come in and he’d be really shy and bashful.

“He’s come in and has taken to it like a pinch of salt (easily).

“I’d never had a conversation with him, but I’ve had many with him now already and he’s a good lad. He’s got no fear and that’s where I think young players coming through now develop like that.

“He’s fitted into the group straight away.”

The Scotsman report that Doak likely won’t play in Monday’s friendly against Gibraltar, but could could make his debut against Finland next Friday.

Carver explained: “If he has to start or has to come on, whatever it is, I don’t think anything will faze him, I really don’t.

“I’ve seen him play in a few games and he’s a player who doesn’t look as if he gets nervous, which is a good thing because when you play for big clubs, a big fanbase, it can add some extra pressure.

“He seems to be able to deal with it.”

Clarke must cut two players from his provisional squad for the Euros and, while there is a chance Doak is one of those, the former-Liverpool assistant coach is known to be a fan.

The manager was recently quoted by the Herald praising the 18-year-old, saying: “At this stage, Ben is the young one who catches my eye if I am being honest. He has got something, attributes that we don’t have in the squad at the moment.

“His searing pace would be one of them. When you watch Ben Doak play he grabs your attention, but he has still got a lot to learn, as do all the young boys when you bring them in.”

Should Doak be selected to feature at the Euros, he will be part of a Scotland squad that face Switzerland, Dominik Szoboszlai‘s Hungary and hosts Germany in the group stage.