Steve Clarke gives update on Leigh Griffiths as he insists Scotland don’t need to rely on home advantage in Euro 2020 play-offs

Steve Clarke celebrates at full time after Scotland's win against Kazakhstan. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
Steve Clarke celebrates at full time after Scotland's win against Kazakhstan. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS
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Steve Clarke believes Scotland do not need to rely on home advantage in the Euro 2020 play-offs to qualify for next summer’s finals.

The Scots already know they will host their Path C play-off semi-final at Hampden against one of Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary or Romania on Thursday 26 March.

They will learn their opponents for that fixture tomorrow morning when Uefa stages a draw which will also determine whether Scotland, if they progress, would be at home or away in the final against Norway or Serbia on Tuesday 31 March.

In the event Clarke’s squad have to travel to either Oslo or Belgrade for the final, they would certainly be regarded as underdogs against nations who are both above them in the Fifa world rankings.

But while Scotland’s best chance of ending a 22-year absence from the finals of a major tournament appears to lie in landing two games at Hampden next March, head coach Clarke has played down the significance of Friday’s ballot.

“It doesn’t matter where we are, whether we are at home or away, we have to win,” said Clarke.

“I don’t think you can afford to look at it like that, in terms of being at Hampden for both games. We just have to look at who we get in the semi-final first of all, which we know is going to be at Hampden.

“So, we make sure we are properly prepared for that and we’ll know beyond that whether we are home or away if we reach the final.

“We have to win the first game, we have to get to the second game and then deal with who we get and where it is in the second game.”

Scotland completed their unsuccessful bid to qualify automatically for the finals with a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan at Hampden in their final Group I fixture on Tuesday night.

Clarke was without several high-profile players he will hope are available again when the play-offs come around, including captain Andy Robertson of Liverpool, Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney, Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay and Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser.

The Scotland boss will also monitor the progress of Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths over the next four months as the 29-year-old continues his battle to regain optimum fitness and form.

Griffiths, who has not played for Scotland since September 2018, scored twice for Celtic reserves in a training-ground friendly against Stenhousemuir on Tuesday but Clarke is reluctant to assess his prospects of a return to the international fold.

“He isn’t in the Celtic team at the moment, so it is very difficult to speak about Leigh,” said Clarke. “Leigh needs to get himself back in the Celtic team and doing what he does best.”

Asked if he felt it might benefit Scotland if Griffiths were to make a January loan move in order to get regular first-team football, Clarke replied: “That is a club decision. It is not for me to get involved in.”