Steve Clarke sends message to senior players about Billy Gilmour ahead of Moldova match

Steve Clarke has urged his senior players to step up and respond to the pressure that is building around Scotland and relieve some of the responsibility from Billy Gilmour’s shoulders.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

The 20-year-old midfielder is in line to make his Hampden debut for Scotland in tonight’s must-win Group F World Cup qualifying clash against Moldova.

His previous three appearances for the full international side have all been away from home with a limited number of Scotland fans in attendance.

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This evening at Hampden is the first time the majority of the Tartan Army will have the chance to witness his talents in the flesh as Scotland prepare to play in front of over 30,000 home fans for the first time since a clash with Russia two years ago this month.

In his brief time as a fully-fledged international player Gilmour has shown his ability to keep the ball and relieve pressure. He was one of the few players to emerge with credit from a chastening night in the Parken stadium on Wednesday as Scotland lost two quick goals against Denmark to fall to defeat and drop two places in the group.

A victory is a necessity tonight against the bottom seeds and Clarke knows patience might be required against a side set up to frustrate Scotland.

“If Billy plays he has a great chance to show the Tartan Army what he is all about,” he said. “But I think they already know that. Most of them will have watched the game (against England) at Wembley and, like you say, once the game (v Denmark) came back to us and we found the level of the game he got on the ball and did really well.

“Listen, we keep talking about him and he is a big prospect but let’s not put too much pressure on young shoulders. Let’s look for some of the senior boys to turn up as well and make sure the performance is good.”

Scotland skipper Andy Robertson will revert to his normal international role of left wingback after an unhappy 45 minutes against Denmark trying his best to make up for the absence of a recognised right back.

Four players who were unable to travel to Copenhagen are available tonight. John McGinn, Nathan Patterson and Stephen O’Donnell return to the squad after Covid-related issues while Kevin Nisbet has got over a knock.

Clarke had put an unnamed striker on stand-by in case the Hibs forward failed to recover. Scotland must start regaining lost ground against Moldova and Austria in four days’ time.

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“The first thing we have to do is get the three points against Moldova,” said Clarke. “We concentrate only on that. We do not look too far ahead or too much at the group table, or the table just now. There are other games that can be pivotal in the group but we cannot affect that. We can only affect our performance against Moldova. That’s all we are concentrating on.

“They know it was a tough night for them the other night but they also know it was not the result we wanted,” he added. “But they also know what we wanted to achieve from this week is all in front of them.”

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