Scotland mull over changes for Hungary Euros clash as 'abundance of certain players' helps out

Carver does not rule out a back-four switch after Tierney injury

Scotland assistant manager John Carver has revealed Scotland could switch to a back four for tomorrow night's final Group A clash against Hungary in Stuttgart.

Steve Clarke’s side are seeking the victory that would almost certainly deposit them in the second stage of a major tournament for the first time, although the task has been made more challenging after an injury to Kieran Tierney

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He is regarded as such a crucial player to Scotland that Clarke adopted a back-five formation to accommodate him, with Scotland skipper Andy Robertson deployed at left wing-back. Both Tierney and Robertson would consider themselves left-backs. 

The system has worked well for Clarke, who must now decide whether it suits the players he still has at his disposal. 

Scott McKenna stepped in at left centre-half after Tierney was stretchered off against Switzerland just before the hour mark. Liam Cooper is another option. "We are actually fortunate, we are a national team with an abundance of left-footed players," noted Carver.  

But reverting to a back four is also under discussion, with Clarke having recently employed this system in the otherwise forgettable pre-Euro 2024 warm-up win over Gibraltar. 

Scotland assistant coach John Carver spoke on potential tactics against the Hungarians.Scotland assistant coach John Carver spoke on potential tactics against the Hungarians.
Scotland assistant coach John Carver spoke on potential tactics against the Hungarians. | Getty Images

Ryan Porteous and Grant Hanley filled the centre-half berths in Faro, although the former is still suspended and out of Sunday’s match. Robertson was at left-back and Ross McCrorie made his Scotland debut at right-back. Clarke said afterwards that it was with the future in mind. It could prove to have been a timely exercise. 

“Steve has been flexible all the way through since I’ve been with him,” said Carver. “And we changed that system because we needed to get more players in certain areas, so there is no reason why we might not go to that. 

“We might have a conversation and go to a four,” he added. “We might. But I’m not the head coach and I can’t say that. I can give my opinion and we will talk about the system.”

Carver cited the toll taken by the draw against Switzerland that preserved Scotland’s hopes of qualifying after the 5-1 opening day defeat by Germany. Some players are still recovering from the effort expended. The Scotland coaching staff oversaw a "very light" training session in Garmisch-Partenkirchen yesterday morning. 

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Carver recalled the flat performance against Croatia, when Scotland were also bidding for three points to take them to the next stage, at Euro 2020. They had secured an admirable if exacting 0-0 draw against England four days earlier. Clarke has since regretted not making more changes. 

“We have to wait and see because we also haven’t had conversations with players to see where they are physically,” said Carver.  

“You saw with your own eyes," he added. "There were an awful lot came out of the game the other night. The similarities with the England game are striking. We did exactly the same against England and we don’t want the same reaction in the last game.”

Tierney has already returned to Arsenal for a scan on his hamstring, injured while making a last-ditch challenge on Dan Ndoye. He has expressed his deep anguish in a post on Instagram. “Heartbroken doesn’t cut it,” he wrote. “Love this team and these boys. This too shall pass.” 

Carver revealed Tierney intends to return to the camp to offer support if Scotland reach the last 16. “He was OK this morning, he came to see people before he left and he will be back if we progress,” he said. 

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