5 Steve Clarke Scotland takeaways as he reveals Lewis Morgan call up reaction and dismisses 'Negative Normans'

Ally MacLeod famously whipped the nation into a frenzy with a rousing open-top bus send-off that had us believing Scotland could WIN the World Cup in Argentina in 1978.

There is no danger of pragmatic Steve Clarke doing the same when the Tartan Army arrive at Hampden on Friday for a Euro 2024 send-off party with Finland the opponents. But don't mistake the manager's dour demeanour for a man who wants to play dull football – and that is part of the reason he has called up Lewis Morgan to his squad for Germany in what came as a bit of a surprise.

Clarke spoke about his decision to name the former Celtic man in his 28-man pool which will be cut to 26 after the Finland game. It's set to be a party atmosphere but the result could determine just how buoyant the mood is. And Clarke will be hoping there isn't an overreaction regardless of the result, as he pointed to some of the comments following the win over minnows Gibraltar on Monday. Record Sport picks out the main talking points from his pre-match press conference.

Morgan’s delight

New York Red Bulls star Morgan hasn’t played for his country for six years since a fringe squad took on Peru and Mexico in friendlies. Clarke explained the process of calling him up. He said: “I didn't actually make the initial phone call. I have to thank his club, New York Red Bulls for their co-operation. They're in season so could have made it difficult. I allowed Graeme Jones, the performance director to make the initial call to Lewis. He started to explain the situation, and Lewis said, 'I'll stop you there, I'm coming’. That tells you how pleased he is to be in our squad.

"We lost Ben Doak and had to look at our options. It came down to Lewis. It shows that we do look far and wide at players. We don't make up stories. Disappointing to lose who we've lost but in Conway and Morgan, we've got two good additions.”

Clarke knows who is for the axe

The manager has lost players from his squad due to injury but the next ones to go will be down to him - well, hopefully! UEFA’s deadline for managers to finalise their squads is 11pm on Friday night - shortly after full-time in the Finland game. And Clarke says he knows who the two are that will drop out - but has yet to tell them. And he was coy on whether it would be a goalkeeper.

Clarke said: "I've reached the decision but haven't had the conversation. It's almost an impossible conversation to have.” And if his chosen goalkeeper gives as little away in Germany as he did, Clarke will be happy. Asked if he’ll take four goalkeepers, he bluntly said: “I’ll take either three or four.”

Negative Normans

Clarke was a little bit prickly when it came to the reaction after the win over Gibraltar in Faro on Monday night. The Scots didn’t have their shooting boots on but he can’t understand why there would be any negativity going into a second major tournament under his stewardship. He said: “Every time I read a comment from someone being a Negative Norman, I dismiss it. Why be negative? Relax and enjoy it. That's what we'll do. I don't understand why anyone would be negative about a second Euros in a row. Let's get behind them and give them a real chance.”

Injuries

There were real fears over Stuart Armstrong after he was injured towards the end of the season while playing for Southampton, who have since released the former Celtic man.

But Clarke said there are no concerns over his fitness that could see him join the crock list. Scott McTominay, though, won’t start against Finland on Friday but the Manchester United man should be fine for the Germany game. Here’s hoping anyway.

Finland out to frustrate

Friday night is a Germany send-off party with the Tartan Army sure to create a carnival atmosphere. A victory is much-needed in those circumstances to ensure the mood isn’t dampened before they boar that flight to Bavaria. But Finland won’t be there to make up the numbers. Clarke said: “They made the play-offs (losing to Wales) and will look to be party poopers. They are a good side.”