The in-form Adams’ inclusion in Clarke’s last squad before he names his Euro 2020 pool was the biggest talking point as the manager seeks to solve Scotland’s long-standing goalscoring problems. Although they enjoyed a successful Autumn by qualifying for a first major finals since 1998, Scotland have scored just three goals in their last six games.
Clarke felt no compunction about drafting Adams into the squad despite the player having previously declined an opportunity to commit his international future to Scotland during Alex McLeish’s second spell in charge. Now 24, the player stands to win his first cap against Austria next Thursday as Scotland face the first of three World Cup qualifiers this month. If he plays in each of those games and then plays in Scotland’s first three Euro 2020 fixtures he would already have amassed as many caps as Clarke did between 1987 and 1994.
The Scotland manager explained that he heard a whisper as recently as last week that Adams – who has scored in his last three Southampton appearances - was prepared to re-consider an earlier decision to wait to see how his England career panned out after winning two Under-20s caps.
“I didn’t have to work particularly hard to persuade him,” he said. “We spoke mainly about the long-term benefits of being a Scottish international. I was saying that at 24 he’s at a great age to come into international football and have an international career, which is something which still grates a little bit with me.
“I had six caps but you can’t call that an international career. It’s great to represent your country six times but I’d rather it was 60 times. And for Che, at his age and with the ability he’s got, hopefully he can go on and have 60-odd games for Scotland. That would be the gist of the conversation we had.
“I’m not so sure it was a case that there was a big reluctance for him to get into the Scotland set-up. You have to remember, this conversation he had with Alex was four years ago. He was only a young man finding his way in the English Championship at the time at Birmingham. You can understand he didn’t want to commit early. His career has continued in an upwards path. He’s got into the English Premier League with Southampton, where he’s doing very well.
“I gave him no guarantees,” Clarke added. “The Euros is a separate tournament. He’s coming in for these World Cup games and there are no guarantees for the summer. You just can’t give guarantees - that’s not possible - because you never know what’s going to happen in football.”
Clarke wants to “lighten the load” on current first-choice striker Lyndon Dykes, who has not scored in his last 20 appearances for Queens Park Rangers. He is considering playing with two strikers.
“We can’t be complacent or think we have cracked it because we’ve qualified for a major tournament,” he said. “We want to qualify for the next one and to do that you have to keep improving the squad.”