Steve Clarke and the Scottish elections theory that will see fans to return to Hampden for opening Euro 2020 clash

Steve Clarke is convinced the Scottish Government will shortly announce measures preparing the way for at least some supporters to be allowed back inside Hampden when Scotland kick-off their Euro 2020 campaign against Czech Republic.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke believes fans will be back for Euro 2020 games at Hampden (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Scotland manager Steve Clarke believes fans will be back for Euro 2020 games at Hampden (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The Scotland manager believes such an announcement will prove a votes winner before the Scottish elections on 6 May. Scotland are understood to be lining up two friendlies before the opening game of their first major finals appearance in 23 years. The Scots then face England at Wembley before returning to Hampden for a potentially crucial clash with Croatia on 22 June. The last time Scotland played a home game in front of fans was a 3-1 win against Kazakhstan in November 2019, when just over 19,000 supporters were present.

“I think with elections coming up I am expecting some good news to come out from the government,” said Clarke. “There will be at least a few fans in the stadium. It obviously won’t be a full house, but if we can get some members of the Tartan Army in here they will make enough noise. Listen, the more we can open up (in terms of Covid-19 restrictions) the more freedom we can all have and it will be nice.”

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The Scottish Football Association are still finalising the details of two friendlies prior to the Czech Republic match, which is ten weeks away on Monday. The Netherlands have been suggested could provide the opposition. “We know what we want to do but until we get the go-ahead from the people who make these decisions there is no point putting out a plan,” said Clarke.

The manager’s next job is to name a pool of players for the Euros. He was glad that the 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands on Wednesday night helped clear some of the gloom generated by draws in the previous two games against Austria and Israel.

Scotland are now second in Group F and will remain there until September at least, when they resume World Cup qualifying with a tough run of fixtures starting against leaders Denmark in Copenhagen.

“I think the three games have been good, I see positive signs,” said Clarke. “I know there was a little bit of negativity the other night. I tried to squash it. When you play as well as we did and as attacking as we were, maybe the team can score goals.

"Maybe the coach is not just a negative, pragmatic coach! You need to know when you can open up and have a go at the opposition.”

Clarke will begin to put serious thought into his squad next week, after spending the Easter weekend back home in England with his grandchildren. He stressed players such as Celtic's James Forrest, on the comeback trail after serious injury, still have time to stake a claim for a place through good performances for their club.

“I have some definites,” he said. “But I think I have shown with selection for this squad there is room for other people to come into the squad if they can impress me enough.

"You don’t want to put a number on it because there might be players out there hoping they can impress me enough to be involved. I don’t want to close that door on them.”

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