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Scotland boss Steve Clarke targets Austria result to round off March internationals

Scotland manager Steve Clarke
Scotland manager Steve Clarke during the 1-1 draw with Poland a few days ago.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke has sets sights on a positive result in Austria to round out the March international break.

His side were impressive in the 1-1 draw against Poland on Thursday night, being denied a victory after Krzysztof Piatek’s dubious late penalty cancelled out Kieran Tierney’s header.

Scotland are unbeaten in seven games since the defeat to Denmark at the start of September, with six wins and a draw in that period.

They head to Vienna on Tuesday night after the Austrians were beaten 2-1 by Wales in Cardiff. Robert Page’s men await the winner of the Scotland-Ukraine play-off.

Clarke saw plenty of signs of encouragement against Poland and hopes to continue that good form into the Austria game in three days’ time.

“It was good, I thought we picked up where we left off against the Danes and I was pleased with what I saw,” said Clarke. “Obviously it was disappointing at the end because we were heading for a clean sheet and win.

“That would have been seven wins in a row, which would have been better reading that six wins and a draw. But it was a very good performance.

“It says a lot about the work we do when we get together, we do try to keep the same principles. I think that shines through when we come back together after four months and we pick it up again straight away.

“It’s good, obviously we want to go to Vienna and get a positive result – then it’s the competitive games in June.

“Austria will be disappointed they’re out but any time you play for your country you want to do your best. They will want to get back on the pitch and try to win the game.

“Did I think Wales would beat them? I think the whole section, the whole pathway is 50-50 in every game. We have to get there first, we will concentrate on that and then we’ll talk about it.”

Clarke had no concerns with pitching defender Nathan Patterson into the game, despite his lack of game-time at English Premier League side Everton.

Nathan Patterson in action against Poland
Nathan Patterson in action against Poland

Patterson joined the Toffees in January from Rangers but so far has only been afforded 45 minutes in the FA Cup against Boreham Wood. He is behind Everton captain Seamus Coleman in the pecking order at Goodison Park as Frank Lampard tries to steer them away from a relegation battle.

“I had no worries about Nathan, none whatsoever,” added Clarke. “I know the level he has gone down to train in and even just training at that level, working with English Premier League players, it’s a good level.

“As long as he’s doing his work properly on the training pitch then he’ll always have enough in his legs to come and play for us.

“I saw him stretching and when he starts to stretch you don’t want to risk an injury for the boy so we took him off. But his performance was really good for a boy who has had so little football.”

Steve Clarke praises players despite late penalty denying Scotland seventh consecutive win

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