Steve Clarke says Scotland are in a 'very good place' as youngsters impress ahead of Euro 2020

Steve Clarke believes Scotland are now as ready as they ever will be ahead of the country's first men's major finals appearance since 1998 after a win in their last warm-up game.

Steve Clarke watches on from the touchline during Scotland's 1-0 win over Luxembourg. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)
Steve Clarke watches on from the touchline during Scotland's 1-0 win over Luxembourg. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

No one can mistake Luxembourg for world beaters, particularly when they lost defender Vahid Selimovic to a red card before half time. But Clarke put to one side concerns about finishing – his side wasted several chances - to assess his squad and options ahead of Scotland's opening Euro 2020 game against Czech Republic in a week’s time.

The manager handed Rangers full-back Nathan Patterson his first cap and saw half-time substitute Billy Gilmour contribute a very eye-catching cameo before being forced off with a head knock after an appalling challenge from Olivier Thill, who was only booked.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We are in a very good place,” said Clarke, after Che Adams’ first-half goal gave Scotland victory in the Stade Jose Barthel. “Two defeats in 16 games, freshness in the squad - with the young boys coming in and having done well. They are taking part well in the group and they are making contributions and they have their caps now. They have been welcomed into the group.

"There’s a little bit of pressure on the more senior ones who are there and things are looking good. You can see the togetherness, when there is an incident on the pitch they are all there. We are all there together on and off the pitch.”

Clarke was referring to the challenge that left Gilmour sitting dazed on the turf after 75 minutes. The Chelsea midfielder had come on only 30 minutes earlier after replacing Callum McGregor at half-time.

Clarke eased fears that Gilmour, who turns 20 later this week, was suffering from concussion. He said he was taken off “as a precaution” and will be monitored.

“The doctor will assess him over the next couple of days,” said Clarke. “But I spoke to Billy. He’s a tough boy. He’s from Ardrossan so he must be. He is fine so that’s good. The challenge happened. I didn’t really get a good view of the challenge. I haven’t seen it back yet.

“It is one of these things that happen in football. The reaction of the players around it was good. They offered a bit of protection and showed we’re together. But let’s not make that the big story. The big story is we’re now fully prepared for our first tournament in 23 years. So let’s look forward to it.”

Clarke said naming his team now for next week’s opening Group C game would spoil the fun of everyone trying to predict it so he will be keeping his cards close to his chest.

Gilmour certainly impressed before being forced off and is certain to feature in his thoughts. One player already all but ruled out is John Fleck, who is continuing to isolate after being diagnosed with Covid-19 last week.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He is up for consideration for the tournament,” said Clarke. “John will join us in the middle of next week. He will get the option when he comes out of quarantine to go home for 24 hours and see his family, or he can join us straight at the training camp.

“Because he’s been in his room isolating, it would be a long shot if he is ready for the first game, but he will certainly be ready for the next game.”

Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.