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Scotland boss Steve Clarke reflects on ‘good decision’ to implement back three after trio of victories restores feelgood factor to national team

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

Boss Steve Clarke thinks Scotland’s three wins over the international break shows the decision to move a back three was the correct one.

The Scots followed up their Euro play-off semi-final win over Israel last week and Nations League victory over Slovakia on Sunday by defeating the Czech Republic 1-0 at Hampden last night courtesy of Aberdonian Ryan Fraser’s early strike.

As a result, the Dark Blues go into next month’s Euro qualifying showdown with Serbia in Belgrade next month on an eight-game unbeaten run. They also sit clear at the top of their Nations League group and need just one more win in the competition to secure a play-off place for the World Cup in 2022.

Clarke, who once again used Scott McTominay, Declan Gallagher and Aberdeen’s Andy Considine as his back three against the Czechs, said: “It was a good performance. We were a bit backs to the wall when they penned us in in the second half.

“But we gave a good account of ourselves in the first half and showed a danger on the break.

“We got the goal and we defended very well. We showed two sides to our game and we are trying to move forward and maintain the momentum.

“We had to dig in at the end, but everyone played their part and it was a big squad effort over the three games.

“The clean sheets are good and it shows the little formation tweak we made last month was the right decision.

“You never got carried away as a coach as it can come back to bite you, but it seems like a good decision.

“The defenders did well, but so did the boys in front of them.

“The goal came off a really good press when we nicked the ball.

“It was a good pass from Lyndon (Dykes) and a great finish from Ryan. We had another few like that in the first half.”

Clarke, who has seen his team click and fulfil each of their objectives over the last week, as well as restoring the enthusiasm of the nation for the national team, added: “It was a good win for the group. We have a little gap and one win next month would win the group. It gives us a good chance and a good platform.

“We had objectives this week – get to the play-off final and finish the month top of the section.

“We wanted a chance to win the group and we have done that. So all in all, it was a good camp.

“The Czech coach said to me after the game that he hopes to see us here next summer (in the Euros).

“That was a nice message and it’s a good incentive. We know how big the game is and we are aware of how everyone is going to build it up.

“We need to stay focused, stay calm and work on what we are good at.”

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