Steve Clarke believes Scotland players affected by nerves in Euro 2024 buildup

Steve Clarke has detailed how player anxiety during the buildup to ­Scotland’s appearance at Euro 2024 could affect friendly performances. His team struggled to break down Gibraltar’s rearguard action on ­Monday, with second-half goals ­sealing a largely forgettable 2-0 win.

Clarke readily admits his team have to do more in front of goal. The pitch in Faro was sticky. However, the mana­ger has explained the mindset of his squad. Clarke named a provisional 28‑man party for Germany, which was reduced by one when Lyndon Dykes was injured in training and was cut by one more on Tuesday when the Liverpool teenager Ben Doak was ruled out with injury. Doak had what Clarke called a “reaction” to training.

Clarke has called up the Bristol City striker Tommy Conway for the match against Finland on Friday, meaning he will have one player to cut before the flight to Munich two days later.

“Don’t forget these players are nervous,” Clarke said. “They have the biggest tournament coming up for the country next week. They all have half a mind on Germany already. It sounds terrible to say that, but that’s just the way it is. It’s natural. They want to go on the plane, flying to Germany for the Euros and involved in what’s going to be a fantastic tournament in the summer so you have to make allowances for that.

“People won’t think of that. They just think of the excitement etc. But until you are actually on the plane and on the way to Germany there is always a doubt in the back of your mind. Probably what happened with Lyndon on the training pitch the other day spooked them a little bit as well. You have to understand. They are human, they have emotions like everybody else.”

Clarke has promised a more familiar lineup when Finland visit Glasgow. Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, Ché Adams and Angus Gunn did not start against Gibraltar and Scott McTominay did not feature at all.

Of making his final cut to the squad, Clarke said: “‘It’s quite a tricky one to be honest because you can put the [finals] team [to Uefa] in at midnight on Friday. You could tell ­someone on Thursday they are not going and then we pick up an injury on the ­Friday and you have to give them a cuddle and say: ‘I love you, you’re going.’ It’s strange that they make us do it like this. But we will find a way.

“I will be speaking to the players concerned, if they are not going to be in the 26, before the Friday game. Maybe you guys won’t find out until after the Friday game.”

skip past newsletter promotion

Clarke wants the Finland fixture to deliver a sense of occasion. “That is what we are after: a good performance at home in front of our supporters to give them that little boost before we go to the tournament,” he said.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply