Scotland Women: Shelley Kerr will make subs from her sofa 2,000 miles away
Explaining the unique arrangements, assistant manager Andy Thomson admits it is far from ideal but is confident it can work and insists it won’t be used an excuse as Scotland’s women prepare for a pivotal Euro 2021 qualifying double-header.Billy Stark and Paul Brownlie have been drafted in as additional assistant coaches for the matches against Portugal on Friday and Finland at Easter Road on Tuesday, but Kerr will be in charge despite not being there in person for either game.
"Shelley will be watching the game from her house and will be in constant contact with a member of staff,” explained Thomson. “Any decision will come to me, but it will be her decision and I will enforce the decisions.
“At any point if she needs to speak to me directly, it is something we can do. We can discuss, as we always do, any substitutions or tactical changes.
“It is not ideal, but it won’t be an excuse for anything that happens. Ultimately, the final decision will be down to Shelley.”
Kerr put her plan B into operation after being deemed to be in close contact with a member of the Scotland Under-21 men’s backroom staff who has tested positive for Covid-19. She has been interacting with the squad via Zoom during this week’s training camp, with Thomson leading the sessions.
“The good things is that Shelley had pre-planned this scenario happening,” added the former Queen of the South striker, whose presence brings some form continuity after three and a half years on the staff. “We knew how to react, so that has helped. We’ve been doing meetings via Zoom. Billy and Paul have been on the pitch helping me. It’s actually been quite smooth. Interaction with Shelley is done remotely. She is involved in everything. The only difference is that she is not here physically.
“The players know me and know how I work. We have some strong personalities and leaders who have taken more responsibility as well. That’s been excellent to see. The players are resilient and motivated. They are adapting really well.”
Aiming to qualify for a third major tournament in a row, Kerr's side are third in qualifying Group E behind both upcoming opponents. The group winners and three best runners-up qualify directly for the rescheduled Euro 2021 finals in England in 2022, while the six further second-placed teams go into play-offs.
The squad is boosted by the return of experienced Arsenal trio Kim Little, Lisa Evans and Jenifer Beattie, all of whom have taken on more responsibility.
Little said: “The most important thing is getting the best performance out of the team in whatever situation that is. This is the one we have to deal with. The players will do the best they can to adapt.
"It is just a different format with Shelley in one place and Andy in another. Andy has been great. We need six points from these two games. That’s our job.”