Steve Clarke explains awkward Scotland position UEFA rule presents as 2 reasons behind under par Gibraltar display

Steve Clarke is sure his Scotland squad will shake off the pre-Germany jitters suffered against Gibraltar.

The national boss reckons the under par performance in Monday’s warm up clash in the Algarve was down to some nervous excitement ahead of the Euros next week. And Clarke also insisted some of his players were also left shaken by last week’s devastating Lyndon Dykes injury. The gaffer is looking for an improved display in Friday’s Hampden sent off against Finland.

But he admitted his stars have been jangling ahead of the huge open against the hosts in Munich next week. Clarke said: “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.

“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 they are involved in what’s going to be a fantastic tournament in the summer so you have to make allowances for that.”

Clarke has ordered extra shooting practice in training after Scotland struggled to hit the target against Gibraltar – he’s also called-up Tommy Conway with Ben Doak ruled out through injury in a major blow to the youngster. Ryan Christie and Che Adams eventually hit the net but it was a frustrating evening for Lawrence Shankland.

Clarke said: “I think it comes down a little bit to confidence. People are searching for confidence. Shanks didn’t really have any clear cut chances where you are thinking, ‘go on, he’s getting there.’

“It’s maybe something we need to look at – his positioning, especially on set plays where he was maybe too far out from the centre of goal. There are always things you can look at. What can we do about it? Keep practicing in training. 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. That’s what we aim to do on Friday.”

Clarke will send out a more familiar Scotland side to face the Fins after making changes for Gibraltar. But he admitted he’s in an awkward position with his final 26 to be rubber-stamped and sent to UEFA by midnight on Friday.

Clarke said: “It’s quite a tricky one to be honest because you can put the team 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 they are not going to be in the 26 before the Friday game.

“I have decent experience myself so I have half an idea of who needs what. We will assess who played, the minutes they got, whether they feel they need a few more minutes, but it will be a little bit closer to a more familiar Scotland team under my tutelage.”