Steve Clarke vows to be adaptable ahead of Scotland’s Wembley clash with England

Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney could return for the Euro 2020 fixture.

Gavin McCafferty
Tuesday 15 June 2021 16:40
Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke

Steve Clarke vowed to be adaptable with his Wembley team selection as Kieran Tierney got back on the training pitch.

Tierney warmed up with a group of players who did not start in Monday’s 2-0 defeat by the Czech Republic, which he missed with what Clarke described as a “niggle”.

Clarke’s team selection has been the subject of much debate after Scotland fell to two sublime finishes by Czech striker Patrik Schick at Hampden.

Che Adams

The Scotland boss is only looking forward though although he stressed there were plenty of positives to take from Monday’s game.

On Tierney, Clarke said: “He did a little bit of light training and we’ll just see how he progresses. He’s got a chance.”

The likes of Che Adams and James Forrest showed some good touches off the bench while there have been calls for Nathan Patterson and Billy Gilmour to be thrown into the mix.

When asked if he would consider changes or remain loyal to his regular starters, Clarke said: “I want to be fair to the 26 players that are in the group, and that’s always to try and pick the team that I think can win the game. So that’s what we will do.

“We will get them all back on the training pitch tomorrow (Wednesday) and see how they are. We will look at any knocks and niggles that we have got and we will decide how we go for the next game.

Kieran Tierney

“Ideally you try and plot your way through the whole tournament but things turn up, as in the situation with Kieran, that your thoughts can be changed. You always have to be adaptable.

“I used 16 players in the game against the Czech Republic and I will probably use 16 players again.

“It’s tournament football, you have got to make sure everyone is fit, you have got to make sure your team always has plenty of energy on the pitch, and I think we showed that on Monday against the Czechs and we will show that again on Friday.”

Clarke has no concerns about the mental effects of defeat on his players after the hype over Scotland’s first tournament game in 23 years and subsequent disappointment.

“They’re professional footballers,” he said. “They understand the highs and the lows of the game. You have to get used to bouncing back from the lows and they’ll do that.

People outside can get carried away if they want

People outside can get carried away if they want

Steve Clarke

“People outside can get carried away if they want. We try not to get too high when things are going well and we try not to get too low when things are negative. We always prepare for the games and that’s what we’ll try to do again.

“The players are good. They’re relaxed. They know what they have to do. We said before that we have to get the points to get out of the group and we still have a chance to do that.

“So there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there because of the result – not the performance, the result. It should be put away, put to one side, so we just concentrate on the next game.

“My job is to analyse the performance. Unfortunately, most people just look at the result and take conclusions from that.

David Marshall

“When we last played the Czech Republic at Hampden we probably had about 40 per cent of possession. This time we had 58 per cent. We had 19 shots at goal. We could have been more clinical – only four on target. Lots of blocks from the Czechs, which tells me that they defended well. So lots that we can be positive about.”

Clarke also brushed off concerns about the mood of goalkeeper David Marshall, who made several good saves but came under criticism for his positioning before Schick netted from 55 yards.

“David’s fine,” Clarke said. “An experienced player, knows the game. Probably faced that type of shot, I think he said something like 50 times in his career, and that’s the only time it has gone in. It happens.

“I can’t understand the criticism of David. It was a shot from Jack Hendry at the edge of the box, three seconds later the ball’s in the back of our net. The blocked shot could have gone anywhere. It fell perfectly for him to run on to and hit. It’s one of these things.”