Steve Clarke on his Scotland secret weapons as he warns players not to waste win over Austria

Steve Clarke has urged Scotland not to risk rendering redundant last month’s victory over Austria as his side seek to cement their second-place position in Group F.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke watches over training ahead of the showdown with Israel at Hampden (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Scots are now in pole position to finish runners-up and secure a World Cup play-off place and they could stretch their lead to four points over Israel with a win over the third-placed visitors tonight.

Clarke’s side then travel to face the Faroe Isles on Tuesday before they round-off the group with a double-header against Moldova and Denmark next month.

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The win in Vienna, thanks to Lyndon Dykes’ first-half penalty, proved a game-changer in terms of the group dynamics. Austria, the second seeds in the group, are currently in fourth place though Clarke is not ruling them out of contention with 12 points still available.

Scotland have a habit of following up good results with poor ones, such as this summer’s 3-1 defeat to Croatia after a 0-0 draw with England. Going further back, a 2-0 loss to Georgia after beating Ukraine 3-1 is still seared in the public’s consciousness as Scotland lost ground in qualifying for Euro 2008 despite beating France twice.

A 1-0 win over the Netherlands at Hampden in the first leg of a Euro 2004 play-off was emphatically overturned in the second leg when the hosts won 6-0.

Clarke has warned against any complacency and wants Scotland to build on one of their best results of recent times as they prepare to host familiar foes Israel at a sold-out Hampden.

“You always want to control your own destiny,” Clarke said. “It’s up to us to continue with that. We have put ourselves in a really good position. I used to say it with my club sides: if you go to a place where you were not expected to get a big result, get it and then don’t follow it up with the next game then it’s a result that goes to waste.

“We don’t want to waste the energy and the quality from the 1-0 victory in the last game. We have to make sure we get another positive result.”

Clarke rejected the assessment that it’s now a two-horse race for second between Scotland and Israel. Austria host the Faroe Isles this evening before travelling to face group leaders Denmark next week.

“I think it would be foolish to rule Austria out,” he said. “They showed in the summer they are a good team. They had a little dip. The last window wasn’t great for them but they are a proud nation and they’ll want to be better this time and next month.

“They’ll be looking at the last four games and thinking about picking 12 points. That’s how I imagine it. Obviously ourselves and Israel with the results against Austria have put us in a better position but the Austrians won’t give up just yet.”

Clarke was giving little away in terms of team selection though he does have a full squad to choose form, which is an improvement from the last international window.

Although this is the seventh meeting in three years with Israel, they will not have faced newcomers Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson before. Clarke agreed they could be potential secret weapons.

“They can be,” he said. “Listen, they will have watched us. They will have watched Nathan play for us and watched Billy for us.

“I’m sure they do their homework as diligently as we do ours. But it’s nice because I feel we keep evolving.”

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