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Steve Clarke not concerned if Hampden misses out on hosting Euro 2020 matches – as long as Scotland qualify

Scotland manager Steve Clarke at Tuesday's squad announcement.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke at Tuesday's squad announcement.

Steve Clarke is not concerned about the possibility of Glasgow missing out on being a host city as long as Scotland reach next summer’s European Championships.

Next year’s tournament, which was moved back 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, is due to take place across 12 different host cities across Europe in a one-off format to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition.

Among them is Hampden Park, with the 52,000 capacity Scottish national stadium due to host Group D fixtures as well as games in the last 16 of the competition.

Given the Covid-19 pandemic is still taking hold across Europe, reports have suggested the idea of holding the tournament across multiple nations is being reconsidered by UEFA.

Russia, which hosted the 2018 World Cup, is believed to be in contention to solely stage the competition.

 

With Scotland on the verge of reaching their first major tournament in 23 years should they defeat Serbia in next Thursday’s qualification play-off in Belgrade, Clarke insists the location of the tournament does not concern him as long as the Scots qualify.

Clarke said: “With the pandemic as it is just now nobody knows what’s going to happen just now, never mind next summer.

“I would imagine UEFA are looking at contingencies but so far as we are aware here at the Scottish FA everything goes ahead as planned until or unless the virus dictates that things have to change.

“They would need to have something in place as an alternative to make sure the tournament went ahead.

“If it was here in Glasgow it would be great. If it has to be in Russia and we have qualified for the finals then great.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

“The Tartan Army can either celebrate and enjoy themselves in George Square or Red Square. I don’t care, as long as we’re there.”

Clarke yesterday named his 27-man squad for the Scots’ next three games, with the Serbia match followed by a Nations League double header away to Slovakia and Israel.

The Scots put themselves into the driving seat in their section last month, after home victories over Slovakia and Czech Republic put them four points clear at the top of Group B2.

With so much at stake, Clarke is not getting carried away amidst the excitement.

He added: “I’ve been speaking for a long time about positivity – but I have a good memory as well. After the September games it was like we couldn’t do anything right.

“Then everything was great for us after the October games – it was like ‘we’re not just going to qualify for Euro 2020, we’re actually going to win it.’ Maybe there should be some balance.

“In the September games I saw some good things and I saw some bad things. Obviously October was more good than bad in terms of the results.

“It’s important within the camp we stay level headed. We have to stay on the same path and work hard. We need to be as difficult as we can to break down and take our chances when they come along at the other end.

“Everyone has to go into the game hopeful we can get the results we need to make it a good month.

“I know the first game is really important because that’s the one-off game for qualification. But the two games after that can help us to win the Nations League B Section, which I don’t think a lot of people thought would be possible.

“That would take us into the A Group where we would test ourselves against top quality opposition.

“It maybe would open up one or two avenues for qualification to the next World Cup. That’s very important to us.”

Among the most notable inclusions are Leigh Griffiths, Craig Gordon and Grant Hanley, who have been recalled following absences from the squad.

Andy Considine and boss Steve Clarke celebrate after Scotland’s win over the Czech Republic.

Aberdeen defender Andy Considine has retained his place after winning his first two caps last month, with Clarke adding: “It’s going to be a difficult selection. But that’s what you want – as many players as you can playing at the top of their form.

“Andrew Considine came into the last camp late, with not a lot of time to work with the lads, but showed his experience and his qualities on the pitch.

“The good thing for me is that I worked in Scottish football for 20 months before I took the national job, so I know the qualities these boys have got.

“It wasn’t like I was taking a stab in the dark with them, I knew when I put Andrew in that he would acquit himself well.”

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