Kieran Tierney blow for Scotland as Steve Clarke insists World Cup play-off is 'no time for experiments' as he names familiar squad

Scotland manager Steve Clarke believes continuity of selection is key to his hopes of leading the country into the World Cup finals in Qatar later this year.

Clarke has named a 28-man squad for what he hopes will be a five-game fixture schedule in June, kicking off with next Wednesday’s World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden.

Victory in that tie would take Scotland into a play-off final against Wales in Cardiff on June 5 with three UEFA Nations League matches against Armenia (home and away) and Republic of Ireland to follow.

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The Scots will be without key defender Kieran Tierney after the Arsenal player lost his race to recover in time from a knee injury which required surgery last month. Everton full-back Nathan Patterson is in the squad, despite still battling back to fitness from an ankle injury which may rule him out of the Ukraine fixture.

There were no surprises in Clarke’s squad with uncapped Sunderland striker Ross Stewart retaining his place ahead of rival claims from in-form Rangers forward Scott Wright.

Clarke is content to retain as much familiarity as possible as he looks to lead Scotland to a first World Cup finals since 1998.

“We have a good squad and we’re in a good moment,” he said. “Since the Euros last summer, the team’s improved. We’re on an eight-game unbeaten run and we’ve got to keep it going for two more games.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke has named a 28-man squad for the World Cup play-offs and Nations League fixtures in June. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

"Hopefully for five more in this camp – we want to go as long as possible unbeaten. The squad’s in a good place, that’s why it’s easy to keep the continuity of the group and not to pick other players. They’re not doing anything wrong – so let’s hope they keep doing things right.

“Yeah, there are more boys in your thoughts who you don’t pick. You eventually have to pick a squad.

“I brought Ross Stewart into the last squad as a forward, had a good look at him and it would have been unfair only to pick him for one camp.

“He scored for Sunderland at Wembley on Saturday, so he will turn up in a good place. He’s got a better understanding now of what we want from our forwards.

Kieran Tierney has been ruled out of action for the Scotland squad next month as he recovers from a knee injury which required surgery in April. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“Scott has got into the Rangers team and done well this season but I don’t think it was a squad to experiment too much.

“It’s probably a disappointment for everybody – the fans, the media – but we’ve known for a few weeks that Kieran wasn’t going to make it. And he himself has known the same so he has got his head around it now and is working on his rehab to be ready for his pre-season with Arsenal. It’s disappointing for Kieran and for us but it’s a chance for someone else.

“Nathan is slightly different. He’s on schedule. If you’re looking at it sensibly, he will probably return to train with a group for the first time when he comes to join us. The Ukraine game is probably just going to come too soon for him but you never know, he’s a young man, he might hit the ground running. We won’t rule him out completely.”


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