Kenny Dalglish has called for Ukraine to get an automatic spot at the 2026 FIFA World Cup ©Getty Images

Former footballer and manager Kenny Dalglish, the record men's football cap holder for Scotland, has called for Ukraine to receive a bye to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, saying it would take the pressure off the national team due to the invasion from Russia.

Ukraine are set to face Scotland in the playoff semi-finals, with the winner of that match playing Wales for a spot in the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

However, the match with Scotland was delayed until June - initially scheduled for the end of March - due to uncertainties around the team's participation with the ongoing conflict, which started on February 24.

Instead, Dalglish suggests it would be fairer to give Ukraine an automatic spot at the 2026 edition, allowing Scotland to play Wales in Cardiff in June.

"I don't know what should be done but you’ve got to have huge respect for the Ukrainian players and the football association," said Dalglish according to The Herald.

"It's not their fault that they are in the position they are in.

"Most of the squad don't play over there. 

"They are playing elsewhere but they’ve still got families there that have been hugely affected by it.

"I think it’s unfair to put them under pressure in any way, shape or form.

Ukraine are set to face Scotland in June ©Getty Images
Ukraine are set to face Scotland in June ©Getty Images

"Maybe a wee olive branch and say, in the next World Cup you can go straight through.

"You don't need to qualify.

"It would be a way of showing your respect for them and at the same time moving forward with this World Cup in Qatar.

"I just think it would be nice, if they want a solution, to give them that.

"And people will say: How can they get that?

"Well, if you want to get your places bombed, your parents killed and your friends killed, that’s what you need to go through to get it. 

"I think it would be nice, if they want a solution, to give them that."

The winner of this playoff will slot into Group B with England, Iran and the United States in Qatar.

Dalglish has a record 102 appearances for Scotland and the joint-record number of goals with 30, alongside Denis Law.

He is regarded as a legend at the two clubs he played for, Celtic and Liverpool.

Russia was excluded from qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup due to the invasion, meaning Poland received a bye to the playoff final, where they defeated Sweden 2-0.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup is to be expanded to 48 teams.