Steve Clarke says fans have a key role as Scotland bid to reach the World Cup

A win over Ukraine would see Scotland face Wales on Sunday for a place at the World Cup

<p>Scotland are going into one of the biggest games in their recent history</p>

Scotland are going into one of the biggest games in their recent history

Steve Clarke believes the Tartan Army have a “massive” part to play in Scotland’s World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine on Wednesday night.

Russia’s invasion of their neighbours in February caused the original fixture at Hampden Park to be pushed back from March and there is widespread sympathy for the visitors going into the game.

There will be extra attention on the national stadium in Glasgow where both sides meet for a place against Wales in the play-off final in Cardiff on Sunday night and Clarke, who is determined to qualify Scotland for a World Cup finals for the first time since 1998, believes the Scottish fans have a key role to play.

“Obviously before the game there will be a lot of emotion around the Ukrainian side,” said the Scotland boss, who will be without Nathan Patterson after the Everton right back ran out of time to prove his fitness.

“I am sure the Tartan Army will respect their national anthem, will applaud their national anthem.

“And then I am pretty sure the Tartan Army will sing their hearts out and get behind the team and it is really important for us that they do that.”

Clarke believes recent play-off experience in qualifying for Euro 2020 – they got past Israel and Serbia in penalty shootouts – will stand his side in good stead as they look to build on an eight-game unbeaten run.

He said: “It is good that we have got recent experience but we are playing against different teams, different players, different circumstances but we have that experience to fall back on if we need.

“Of course, we haven’t lost in eight games. The guys know when they turn up that they are on a good run and they want to keep that run going for at least two more matches.”

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