Steve Clarke's Kilmarnock experience can help Scotland punch above weight - Scott McKenna

Scott McKenna vies for the ball with Cyprus forward Sotiriou Pieros
Scott McKenna vies for the ball with Cyprus forward Sotiriou Pieros
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Scott McKenna believes that Steve Clarke’s experience of successfully punching above his weight at Kilmarnock will stand Scotland in good stead when they travel to take on Belgium this week.

After a disappointing start to the Euro qualifying campaign, Clarke assumed the managerial reins and got his international career off to a good start with a victory over Cyprus at Hampden.

The next Group I match will pose more testing questions of the squad but Aberdeen defender McKenna, who was denied third place in the Premiership by Clarke’s high-performing Kilmarnock, says that offers him hope that similar giant-killing tactics can be deployed on Tuesday.

“The manager has been brilliant and we’ve all been impressed by him and I’m sure he’ll set us up to try and make it difficult for Belgium.

“You saw it in his Kilmarnock teams... he made it difficult for Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen - all the best teams in the league - and just frustrated him.”

The extra belief paid off last night as Scotland bounced back from the loss of a late goal to fire in an 88th minute winner.

“It was a wee bit of relief but we were just delighted to get the three points in the end after conceding a goal so late on.

“We conceded so late on but to come back from that and go on to win the game showed a great togetherness and we’re delighted for Oli [Burke, the matchwinner] coming off the bench to score his first Scotland goal.

“The manager told us before the game not to get frustrated and if it takes us until the 70th, 80th minute to get the breakthrough then we had to be patient.

“He told us not to get frustrated if the fans were getting on at us but I have to say they were brilliant and I really noticed that when I came out for the start of the second half, they really drove us on.

“We worked on a shape and gameplan all week and he wanted us to trust ourselves and trust the way we were set up and not get frustrated and that showed in the end.

“Everyone has been very impressed at the way the manager has been on the training pitch and we know exactly what our jobs are.

“It shows a real togetherness in the camp to win the game like that. Even the boys coming off the bench to play their part, we needed that.”