Steve Clarke lifts lid on Scotland training as manager mulls over another call-up

Intensity levels have been high ahead of match against Netherlands

Steve Clarke revealed his Scotland players have been going all out to secure a squad place for this summer’s Euros.

The Scots are in Amsterdam for a friendly against the Netherlands on Friday before they host Northern Ireland in a challenge match at Hampden Park next Tuesday night. The games are part of the preparations for the European Championship in Germany and the Scotland boss has noticed a certain determination in training.

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“The training has been really intense but to be honest and fair to the players the training is normally intense when we come together,” said Clarke, who will decide after the Dutch game whether to bring in a replacement centre-back after losing Grant Hanley and Scott McKenna. “We have a good camaraderie. It is something that we have built over the last four-and-a-half years.

Steve Clarke's Scotland team take on Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday.Steve Clarke's Scotland team take on Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday.
Steve Clarke's Scotland team take on Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday.

“They understand that I can only pick 23 and they are all trying to show how good they are in training which is fantastic because it drives the standard up and hopefully you see in the two games coming up that everybody is trying to show that they want to be part of the Scotland squad who is going to Germany in the summer This group of players are always competitive when they come away. They want to do well all the time when they come away.

“It is a little bit of an extra edge because we are approaching a major tournament and they want to be involved in. For me it is still a long way off. It is there in front of us but for now it is to concentrate on these friendly matches, hopefully two positive results and then we can start thinking about the two pre-camp friendlies before we go to the tournament. It still seems a bit distant to me.”

The Scots have gone five games without a win including qualifying draws with Norway and Georgia, a qualifying defeat against Spain and losses to England and France in friendlies but Clarke attempted to put the results into context. The former West Brom and Kilmarnock boss said: “The games have been informative, the two results that I don’t like the most is the two draws in the competitive games. If we want to continue to improve and get to where we want to be then those are matches that we should win. So that is something that we can improve on.

“The circumstances around the games were a little bit different, in that we had just beaten Cyprus away to get 15 points and felt were in a good place. England came to Hampden and played very well on the night. We didn’t reach the standards that we want to reach so we lost that one. The French was a different one again, we had just qualified having watched Spain beat Norway and we had a good night to be honest.

“We enjoyed ourselves a little but then went to play one of the best teams in the world two days later. If you watched the game we had some good moments and showed we can be competitive against these teams, that’s what we want to show tomorrow night against a very good Dutch side. We want to show we are improving and obviously we want a positive result as well. The Dutch team have good players, we expect a tough game.”