GIVEN that a former occupant of the role, Ally McCoist, described playing up front for Scotland as the loneliest job in the world, it is perhaps unsurprising that there isn’t exactly a long line of candidates beating down the doors of Hampden who are ready and able to take up the position.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke’s recruitment drive has taken him all the way to Australia’s Sunshine Coast – albeit via Dumfries and West Lothian – but he might just have found the perfect candidate in Lyndon Dykes if his debut against Israel is anything to go by.

The large swathes of empty seats at Hampden for a Nations League match shouldn’t exactly have unsettled the Scots, given that the last encounter between the sides in this competition at this stadium was played out in front of 30,000 of them. And that was before the lockdown.

If we are being extra cruel, it wasn’t exactly a situation that should have phased Dykes either, given his stint at the Toni Macaroni Stadium for Livingston.

On a more charitable note, the big man quickly showed what he can offer for Scotland as he won a header to release John McGinn onto the Israeli backline, hinting that his role may be to bring the best out of one of Scotland’s most potent attacking weapons of late rather than hog the spotlight himself.

He showed some accomplished link-up play with his feet next, playing the final ball of a lovely Scotland exchange to release James Forrest down the right, with the only surprise being that the Celtic winger didn’t go for the jugular when left with just his own man to beat.

His next involvement was even more encouraging, holding up the ball under real pressure in the midfield and releasing Ryan Christie on the left, only to be clattered by Dor Peretz after the ball had long left the vicinity.

The big man seems made of stern stuff though, and he shrugged that off in no time, although his involvement in the game diminished somewhat as the Scots struggled to piece together much in the way of fluent attacking football.

In fact, it was the big man at the other end that Scotland had to thank as David Marshall came to the home side’s rescue with a smart reaction save from Moanes Dabbur’s close-range header after a misjudgement from Scott McTominay.

It was to prove crucial, as Dykes showed his worth by linking with McGinn yet again to win Scotland a penalty just before the interval. The forward got up well at the back stick to knock a deep corner down into the centre of the box, where McGinn got his toe to the ball just before Eytan Tibi, taking the resultant blow from the Israeli to earn a spot-kick.

Christie stepped up and smashed it into the top corner past Ofir Marciano. In truth, for all of Dykes’ decent work to that point, Scotland never really looked like scoring from open play in the opening 45, so it was a welcome breakthrough.

The second half started as the first ended, with Dykes feeding off scraps but making the most of them. Twice in the opening 10 minutes of the half he took down balls that had snow on them and showed that he was ice cool himself by holding off two defenders, finding a teammate on the first occasion and winning foul on the second.

It is the sort of bread and butter stuff that may not exactly be thrilling to watching spectators, but that would have had manager Steve Clarke purring. Such an ability to make something from almost nothing, getting Scotland up the pitch in the process, is one of the key responsibilities of the role.

The only disappointment from his night would have been that Scotland allowed Israel to equalise just as he was about to be substituted with a little over 15 minutes left, but that had little to do with him. In fact, had some of his teammates performed to the level in their own positions that Dykes did, it may have been a different outcome.

That it was Oli Burke who came on in his stead to spearhead the Scotland attack highlighted – with the greatest of respect – the shallowness of the pool Clarke is currently trawling as he desperately tries to find the answer to one of the national team’s long-standing problem positions.

As for Dykes, he may not have scored, but if this was his interview for the vacancy, then he certainly showed his suitability for the role. Thankfully for Scotland, he has already rejected Australia to accept the position.