Steve Clarke tells aspiring Scotland internationals to be ready for call-up

Steve Clarke has told all Scottish players with international aspirations to be ready to answer the call following the 1-0 win over Czech Republic on Wednesday night.

Coronavirus issues meant Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie were missing with skipper Andy Robertson suspended and James Forrest injured ahead of the Nations League match at Hampden Park, the third international at the stadium in a week.

Following his debut in the 1-0 win over Slovakia on Sunday after being called up at the age of 33, Aberdeen defender Andy Considine earned his second cap and Hibernian defender Paul Hanlon, drafted in before the Czech game, came on as a second-half substitute to make his bow and help the Scots hold on to the lead given to them in the sixth minute by Ryan Fraser.

Scotland are top of Nations League Group B2 with 10 points from four fixtures and are enjoying their longest unbeaten run since 1988 ahead of the Euro 2020 play-off final in Serbia next month before games against Slovakia and Israel away.

Clarke said: “The boys who have been in the squad this time have been great.

“Everyone talks about the people that dropped out from the original squad and I lost a lot of players but the boys that came in have been great.

“The call-ups that sort of came from nowhere if you like, Andy Considine, two great games at 33 years of age. On Saturday he didn’t have any caps, now he has two.

“Paul Hanlon at 31 came into the group, no training really with the squad, comes on to the pitch and gets a cap.

Veteran defender Andrew Considine now has two caps for Scotland
Veteran defender Andrew Considine now has two caps for Scotland

“So I think that sends a message to everybody at this time especially, with so many possible drop-outs, everyone has got be ready to help us.

“We need all the players in the squad to be active, ready to go, ready to help us.

“The core of the group who have been with me from the very start, are also important because they’ve bought into the message. Anybody who joins the squad gets the same message.

“You have seen the togetherness and the fight. OK, we rode our luck a couple of times but you get that luck when the players work as hard as they did.”

Clarke believes it is “a big compliment to the league” to have players like Considine and Hanlon along with Motherwell duo Declan Gallagher and Stephen O’Donnell in the squad and finishing the game against a more than decent Czech side.

The former Kilmarnock and West Brom boss said: “One of the first things I said was that Scottish football needs to learn to sell itself a little bit better.

“Good players up here, good talent and good competitors.

“And that’s one of the things that we’ve got back, we’ve got back that Scottish spirit, where you don’t want to get beat, you’re digging in.

What a week its been with all the lads @ScotlandNT. Top of the group and through to the playoff final. What a time to be Scottish 💙💙💙💙🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿💪🏻

— Declan Gallagher (@declang31) October 14, 2020

“Teams are coming to Hampden and we want to make it as difficult as possible for them.

“That’s what we want to do, we want people to think ‘oh, Scotland at Hampden’ so hopefully this month has helped us with that.

“As a nation that’s what Scotland has always had, they had a little bit of flair, flair players, but they’ve also had that little bit where they don’t like to get beat.

“Hopefully we have reinstalled that into the squad after a run of eight games without a defeat.”