The new Scotland manager is adamant he won’t go chasing those who have signalled their desire to concentrate on club careers. Scott Brown, pictured, James McArthur and Allan McGregor announced their retirement from international football during Alex McLeish’s tenure.
But there are others such as Matt Ritchie, Tom Cairney and Robert Snodgrass who exist in what Clarke referred to as a “grey area” and have slipped away from the Scotland scene for whatever reason. He intends as soon as possible to get firm decisions from them about their future intentions. Clarke names his squad for the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium on Tuesday.
“It’s important to stress if someone has retired from international football, fine, we will respect that decision,” he said. “If they want to un-retire themselves they have to come back to me or someone else at the SFA and say they want to be considered having previously indicated they don’t want to be considered.
“And then you have the grey area where some are not quite sure – those are the ones you have to speak to,” he continued. “And if they are not committed I would rather they were just honest. Look, whatever stage of their career they are at, whatever reasons they have for not wanting to be involved, then don’t come.
“Come if you want to be part of what we are doing,” he added. “Anyone who comes to the squad now I am expecting them to be fully committed, at least until the end of the qualifying for Euro 2020.”
He is aware several players were left out of the Scotland squad for McLeish’s ill-fated double-header against Kazakhstan and San Marino because they were “managing” injuries.
Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher was one but he scored the very night McLeish confirmed he had been left out due to his club’s concern about his fitness.
“I am sure there are some genuine cases of that,” said Clarke. “You have to be careful not to tar everyone with the same brush and say, ‘he’s thrown one in’ when he has a bona fide injury he has to manage.
“These are things I will have to learn as I go along,” he added. “It’s a completely different job to club management because they are not my players. We are borrowing the players from their clubs.
“What we have to put in place is a club atmosphere. We want the crowd on side, we want everyone on side. We want positivity so that when you come to the games the players feel everyone is behind them, and I don’t think that’s always the case.”