Steve Clarke: We're ready for Serbia with confidence sky high

Steve Clarke believes Scotland are as ready as they can be prior to next month’s play-off final against Serbia.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke and skipper John McGinn during the 1-0 win over Czech Republic  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Scotland manager Steve Clarke and skipper John McGinn during the 1-0 win over Czech Republic  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Scotland manager Steve Clarke and skipper John McGinn during the 1-0 win over Czech Republic (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Scotland manager watched his side extend their unbeaten run to eight games with the 1-0 win over Czech Republic that puts Scotland four points clear in Group B2 with two games left to play.

These away Nations League fixtures against Slovakia and Israel come directly after the trip to face Serbia in Belgrade on 12 November.

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Scotland are 90 minutes away from their first major finals since 1998. Clarke is confident he has found the right system and group of players to end the exile.

A goal after six minutes from Ryan Fraser proved the match-winner against Czech Republic. Scotland were forced to hang on towards the end but did so to record their third successive clean sheet. One of those matches, against Israel last week, included extra-time.

Andrew Considine and Declan Gallagher have pressed their case for inclusion against Serbia and Clarke will also hope to have Scott McKenna and Kieran Tierney available again. Skipper Andy Robertson also missed the Czech Republic win due to suspension but will return next month, injury and illness permitting.

“The confidence in the squad is sky high now,” said Clarke. “There are players who have missed out this month who will be desperate to be involved next month.

“Then there are the players who have come in out the cold who will be desperate to be involved again. I wouldn’t like to be the national coach who needs to pick a squad!”

“I think we’re as well prepared as we can be going into such a big match against Serbia,” he added. “What we spoke about when we got together for this camp was that we had to beat Israel and go through.

“We managed to do that and on the back of that, rather than talking up the Serbia game too much, we made sure everybody was focused on getting maximum points out of the next two games.

“We did that and have the platform now where we can win the League B section and get promotion to Group A which would be fantastic in terms of the development of the team.

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“It would be fantastic for our world ranking and it would also possibly give us a little safety net in the qualification for Qatar 2022. All those things were really important to us.”

Clarke revealed that Czech Republic assistant manager Jiri Chytry had remarked that he hoped to see Clarke at the Euro 2020 finals next summer. Czech Republic have already qualified and are based in Glasgow.

“The Czech coach said to me after the game that he hopes to see us here next summer,” he said. “That was a nice message and it's a good incentive. We know how big the game is and we are aware of how everyone is going to build it up. We need to stay focused, stay calm and work on what we are good at.”

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