Mark McGhee described Robert Snodgrass as a player who “can do it all” following the Scotland forward’s hat-trick in the 5-1 World Cup qualifying win in Malta.
The Hull player missed the failed Euro 2016 qualification campaign with a dislocated kneecap sustained against Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the 2014 Premier League season, but showed his worth in the Ta’ Qali National Stadium.
Snodgrass’ opener, when an attempted cross landed in the net, was rather fortuitous but it got Gordon Strachan’s side off to an encouraging start in their Group F opener .
Although Malta’s Alfred Effiong gave the travelling Tartan Army cause for concern when he levelled, striker Chris Martin restored the visitors’ lead and Snodgrass scored a penalty as Jonathan Caruana was controversially sent off despite replays appearing to show no contact with Martin.
Snodgrass tapped into an empty net for his third after Steven Fletcher had stretched Scotland’s lead further with Malta’s Luke Gambin also sent off late on for his challenge on the 28-year-old.
Assistant manager McGhee heaped praise on the Glaswegian in a TalkSport interview, saying: “Snoddy is a player you would have nailed in every time.
“I was there the day he got injured at Queens Park Rangers, I saw it, I was at the game and what a loss to them he was and I think they ended up getting relegated.
“I am convinced that had he not got injured, they probably would have stayed up.
“That is how important a player he is for them and he is for us.
“He has such variety.
“In the second-half Gordon put him off the front and moved Oliver Burke back wide and Snoddy flourished because he can do it all.
“He can come short as a midfield player, he will work back defensively, he will run ahead of the centre-forward, he will take people on, he will run wide.
“He has a brilliant variety to his game and is a very important player for us.”