Inside emotional Scotland Euro 2024 axe talks with Craig Gordon and John Souttar as update on Scott McTominay given

Clarke hails goalkeeper after he was left out of Scotland’s final squad

Steve Clarke has stressed how it is a “mark of the man” that Craig Gordon was having dinner with his teammates within an hour of being told his Euro 2024 dream was over.

The Scotland manager has provided insight into the devastating scene as he broke the news to the veteran goalkeeper that he was one of two players being culled from the squad. Clarke confirmed that Rangers defender John Souttar is the other. The Scotland manager revealed that it was an “emotional” discussion in his case too.

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The remaining 26 players leave for Germany on Sunday on the back of a 2-2 draw with Finland, with the 41-year-old Gordon having accepted Clarke’s offer to come on as substitute and win his 75th cap and become Scotland’s oldest player in the process.

Scotland's Tommy Conway has a late chance on his debut.Scotland's Tommy Conway has a late chance on his debut.
Scotland's Tommy Conway has a late chance on his debut.

“It was a tough conversation with Craig,” acknowledged Clarke. “Emotional to be honest. But it’s a mark of the man that he’s here tonight. I’d understand if he didn’t want to. But I wanted to give him the 75th cap. Within one hour of telling him the news, he was down having dinner with the lads and in the meetings. At the end of the game, we gave him a little award signed by all the lads, 75 on the back of his jersey. I said: ‘I know Craig will throw this back in my face, that 76, 77, 80 is coming’.”

As for Souttar, Clarke admitted it was an equally tricky conversation. At 27, the defender still has the chance to play for Scotland in a major finals. “It’s really difficult for people who haven’t been with us to know how difficult it is to sit down with people who have always given their best for their country when I’ve selected them,” reflected Clarke.

“They’ve got so close to the margin. The last time because of Covid the conversations were done on the telephone this time they were done face to face. I’m pleased I made the decision to bring a slightly bigger squad because we’ve had one or two issues. It means I get the chance to look the boys in the eye and they get the chance to look me in the eye and see how difficult it is for me. Both guys were very professional.”

Clarke did not risk either Scott McTominay or Che Adams at Hampden, where the visitors came back from 2-0 down. He said both would be fine for next Friday, when Scotland kick off the tournament against Germany.

Tommy Conway, who replaced the injured Lyndon Dykes, won his first senior cap as a second-half substitute and almost claimed a late winner with a header that was well saved. “He should’ve scored!” said Clarke, with reference to the Bristol City striker. “But he showed he gets into goalscoring positions. He told me he’s saving goals for Germany so that’s fine. Lewis (Morgan) came in off a long flight from America on Thursday and he looked good, he looked lively when he came on.

“They’re good additions to the squad. When you lose players you’ve selected initially. You’re always thinking about what you can do to make the squad better and I think both boys have come in and did OK for us.”

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