Scotland viral infection update as clutch of players affected - but there is good news
But these hopes have been severely compromised by a sickness bug that has compounded the squad’s already extensive injury problems.
Stuart Armstrong and Lyndon Dykes did not take part in training on Monday while Che Adams and Greg Taylor also felt under the weather, although they did train.
Kieran Tierney and Scott McKenna were not on the flight to Krakow after being ruled out due to injury on Sunday. The suspended Scott McTominay was already unavailable.
Clarke is now without as many as 16 players who could reasonably have been expected to start Tuesday evening’s last Group B1 game.
Nathan Patterson dropped out last week after sustaining ankle damage in the home clash with Ukraine while David Turnbull also left the camp injured. Grant Hanley and strikers Jacob Brown and Ross Stewart did not even join up. Now a sickness bug has added to the problems on another enormous occasion for Scotland.
Clarke revealed that Ryan Fraser was ill on the eve of the Republic of Ireland game but still managed to contribute to the next day’s win.
“We seem to have a little viral infection in the camp,” said Clarke. “Ryan Fraser actually had it the other night. He was up sick during the night before the Ireland game.
“Overnight we’ve had a few more feeling a little bit under the weather. They haven’t all been sick. But Lyndon Dykes and Stuart Armstrong didn’t train today because they had been sick quite late in the night.
“One or two of the staff members haven’t been feeling too great so there seems to be a little bit of a virus in the camp. We’ve obviously got to manage and monitor the situation.
“If it goes the same way as it did for Ryan, it’s less than 24 hours and then they’re okay again. Fingers crossed nobody else picks it up.'
Clarke was able to report some brighter news. Aaron Hickey has recovered from the tightness he felt in his hamstring on Saturday evening and seems certain to start at right back – or at right wing back.
“It seems like we made the right decision in taking him off when we did the other night,” said Clarke. “It’s good he’s available. We also have Tony Ralston and Josh Doig who has looked good in training. Like I say, it’s now down to those boys to step forward and make their mark in the team.
“In this situation I always say it’s not about the ones who have dropped out, it’s about the ones who are here and can step in,” he added. “It’s a great chance for them to show everybody what they’re all about.”
Clarke confirmed Kieran Tierney has returned to Arsenal after sustaining a head knock against Republic of Ireland.
“I’d still say it was precautionary, but the player is back as his club, so we’ll let them deal with it,” he said.
“It seems a bit callous and cold from me, but I have to move on to the next player who is available and try to prepare as best possible for the game coming up.”