Sunday, May 16

Steve Clarke: Scotland must prove that they can qualify for Qatar World Cup and are not one-tournament wonders | Football News

Scotland manager Steve Clarke has called on his team to prove they are no “one-tournament wonders”.

Scotland will end a 23-year absence from the big stage at this summer’s Euro finals but the focus is on the World Cup as Clarke’s men begin their qualifying campaign against Austria on Thursday, live on Sky Sports.

Clarke said: “The squad is focused completely on the World Cup games because they are the most important ones.

“We have said almost since we qualified for the Euros that we don’t want to be one-tournament wonders. We want to have a continued period of success.

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“That starts tomorrow night against Austria at Hampden.”

Clarke lost Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack to an ongoing calf problem on Monday but has the likes of John Fleck and Kenny McLean as alternatives, while Scott McTominay could move forward into his natural midfield position.

“We lost Ryan Jack but we sort of pre-empted that so we are in good shape,” Clarke said. “It is a blow for us because he has done well for us and he plays a certain position in midfield that without him we don’t really have.


Clarke assesses his squad and looks ahead to the opening World Cup qualifiers against Austria, Israel and the Faroe Islands.

“So we will miss him but we have got a really good squad now so time for someone else to step forward.

“The little time we have had on the training pitch has been really good work, high quality so hopefully we can take that on to the pitch. In my head, I know the team.”

Clarke explains Scotland’s decision not to take a knee

Clarke says his team decided to stop taking a knee because the “powerful symbol” has become diluted.

The Scottish men’s national team have said they will now stand in solidarity with the fight against racism ahead of this month’s World Cup qualifiers.

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Clarke hopes taking a stand rather than a knee will have an impact on the fight against racism.

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News, Clarke explained the decision: “Recent events and past events show that you have to keep changing people’s mindsets about racism. I think the knee when it was first proposed and first taken was a really powerful symbol.

“It’s maybe now become a little diluted, there’s been some high profile cases recently, which shows the racism and the abuse is still there. It’s not acceptable to anybody.

“And maybe just taking a stand as opposed to the knee will just waken everybody up to the fact that if we go to sleep it will never go away. We have to keep confronting it, pushing forward and making sure that in years to come racism of any form is not acceptable.”

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