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Boss Steve Clarke challenges Scotland to go on long unbeaten run to deliver World Cup dream

Scotland's Scott McTominay celebrates after scoring in injury time to make it 3-2 against Israel.

Boss Steve Clarke has challenged Scotland to go on an extended unbeaten run to deliver the nation’s World Cup qualifying dream.

Scotland are in control of the battle to finish runners up in Group F and secure a play-off spot next March.

Should Scotland see off minnows Faroe Islands away on Tuesday and Moldova – ranked a lowly 180th in the world – next month, a play-off spot will be secured.

On a high after three straight qualifying wins, Clarke has urged the Scots to go keep the momentum going into the play-offs and beyond.

He hopes that will see the Scots secure World Cup qualification, but warned against ‘potholes in the road’ to Qatar 2022 such as a physical Faroes side.

Scotland Manager Steve Clarke during a training session at Oriam.

He said: “If we can continue this unbeaten run all the way into the playoffs in March that would be fantastic for us.

“But we’re also very, very  aware there are potholes in the road that you can fall down.

“We have to avoid those potholes and problems and make sure we do get second place and we do get to the playoffs.

“That’s the only thing on our minds. Nothing else.

“The next game is the most important game.”

Don’t let yourselves down against Faroes

A narrow defeat of Moldova at Hampden last month was followed up by a 1-0 victory against the group’s second seeds Austria in Vienna.

Scotland moved four points clear in second spot with a last-gasp, dramatic 3-2 defeat of third-placed Israel, courtesy of an injury time winner from Scott McTominay.

Lyndon Dykes of Scotland celebrates after scoring the second goal for Scotland in the 3-2 defeat of Israel.

Clarke has urged the Scots not to blow all that good work in the Faroe Islands.

There is history of the Scots slipping up on the North Atlantic archipelago, having twice slumped to shock draws in Euro qualifiers in the Faroe Islands – 1-1 in 1999 and 2-2 in 2002.

Clarke said: “The thing that I’ve always tried to take from my career is that if you get one big result, there is no point in messing it up in the next game.

“We can say: ‘great results, don’t let yourselves down by not getting the points you require in the upcoming game against the Faroes’.

“I look at this group and, leading into the Nations league playoffs, we went eight games unbeaten.

“So that tells me that this group of players understand what they have to do, how they have to arrive in certain games, what state of mind they have to be in to get the next result and the next result.

“Hopefully we can show that against the Faroes.

“I’ve got to be the old guy that tries to calm everybody down and say ‘look, it’s just another step on the way to second position’.

“That’s all it is. Three points against Israel,  all it did was keep us in second place.

“When we come away from the game against the Faroes, we want to hopefully have cemented second place. That’s the aim.”

Steve Clarke with his captain, Andy Robertson during the 3-2 defeat of Israel.

Clarke expects physical Faroe Islands side

Scotland have won seven and drawn two of the nine competitive meetings with the Faroe Islands.

Although currently a lowly 114th in the FIFA World rankings, the Faroe Islands are an improving footballing nation and have scored against Spain and Portugal in recent internationals.

They also defeated Moldova 2-1 in Group F – a side Scotland could only beat 1-0 at Hampden.

Clarke expects a physical battle.

He said: “The Faroes have their own way of playing.

“They have good physicality and the goalkeeper has a very long kick.

“I’m not saying they always play direct, but they have the option to be long and direct and be straight at your back four or back five.

“So there are different problems to the ones that Israel gave us the other night.

“That’s something we have touched on in training and we will touch on again in the meetings to make sure we are ready for a tough game.

“Everyone looks at the Hampden game, and 4-0 looks like a really comfortable night, but it was 1-0 for a long time.

“It wasn’t a comfortable night.

“Once we got to 2-0, we managed to go on and get the third and the fourth, but that really just put a little  gloss on the score-line. It was a tighter game than 4-0.”

No concerns about artificial surface

Scotland will face the Faroe Islands on an artificial surface at the 5,000 capacity Torsvollur stadium.

On the surface, Clarke said: “I haven’t given it any thought, to be honest.

“We don’t overthink these things. It’s just another part of the process.

“We have to play against a Faroes team that are well organised, good physically, some great set-play delivery with one fantastic taker, long throws into the box and good organisation.

Scotland’s Scott McTominay scores a dramatic late goal to make it 3-2 against Israel.

“There’s a raucous home support who also get right behind their team and the pitch is just another part of the process that means it is going to be a difficult night for us.

“It’s a night we have handle and handle well to come out out with the three points that we want.”

Texts about touchline run… and a spot

Such was the significance of the win against Israel on Saturday, the normally ice-cool Clarke sprinted down the touchline at Hampden in celebration.

He revealed his feet were kept firmly on the ground by texts from friends and family about his celebration, and a spot on the end of his nose!

Scotland Manager Steve Clarke celebrates during the World Cup qualifier defeat of Israel.

Clarke said: “It was a fantastic second-half performance from the lads and the stadium was rocking.

“Yet the majority of texts from my family and close friends were all about that run down the touchline and the big spot I still have on my nose!

“It keeps you level headed and grounded.”

Who will replace injured Che Adams?

Clarke will be without Che Adams for the Faroe Islands clash after the Southampton striker suffered a muscle injury in the defeat of Israel.

Adams has not travelled to Torshavn and has returned to his club.

Clarke said: “Going into the Israel game after a five-game camp, I already knew what the team was going to be and the lads knew.

“This time there’s some positions that I am looking at and I have to get the balance right as it was a big physical effort on Saturday night.

“So I have to get balance right between maybe making two or three changes to freshen the team without losing that real spark we had it in the second half.”