Steve Clarke calls on players from Scotland to prove they are not ‘tournament wonders’

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Steve Clarke calls on players from Scotland to prove they are not ‘one-tournament wonders’ when they kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign after heroic penalties to hit Euro 2020.

  • Steve Clarke wants Scotland to focus on their World Cup qualifying campaign
  • Scotland dramatically qualified for Euro 2020 with two penalty shootouts
  • They will face Austria on Thursday for matches against Israel and the Faroe Islands
  • Ryan Jack is injured, but John Fleck and Kenny McLean are both available

Steve Clarke has called on his Scotland players to prove they are not one-tournament wonders after their heroic penalties to hit Euro 2020.

Scotland will end a 23-year absence from the big stage at this summer’s postponed tournament, but the focus will be on the World Cup as Clarke’s men begin their qualifying campaign against Austria on Thursday.

Clarke said: ‘The team is fully focused on the World Cup games because these are the most important.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has urged his team to prove they are not 'one-tournament wonders'

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has urged his team to prove they are not ‘one-tournament wonders’

Clarke's squad dramatically qualified for Euro 2020 with two penalty shootout wins

Clarke's squad dramatically qualified for Euro 2020 with two penalty shootout wins

Clarke’s squad dramatically qualified for Euro 2020 with two penalty shootout wins

‘Almost since we qualified for the European Championship, we have said that we don’t want to be miracles of one tournament. We want to have a lasting period of success.

“That starts tomorrow night against Austria in Hampden.”

Scotland dramatically qualified for Euro 2020 when they defeated Serbia in a nerve-racking penalty shootout in the play-off final, after also beating Israel on penalties in the semi-final.

Ryan Christie’s clever left-footed finish in the 52nd minute against Serbia seemed to send Scotland on its way to their first major tournament since 1998, before Luka Jovic’s ninety-minute header stopped the party.

A nervous 30 minutes extra time followed, in which goalkeeper David Marshall saved a fine fingertip to keep their hopes alive.

Scotland converted all five of their spot kicks in the ensuing shootout, and Marshall saved low to the left against Aleksandar Mitrovic to put his side in delirium and make sure they were there for this summer’s final.

David Marshall (left) produced the stop that sent his squad to their first tournament since 1998

David Marshall (left) produced the stop that sent his squad to their first tournament since 1998

David Marshall (left) produced the stop that sent his squad to their first tournament since 1998

They will face England, Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage, but for now they will focus on the match against Austria, followed by a trip to Tel Aviv to take on Israel and another match in Hampden Park against the Faroe Islands.

Clarke lost to Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack on Monday to an ongoing calf problem, but has John Fleck and Kenny McLean as alternatives, while Scott McTominay could move into his natural midfield position.

“We lost Ryan Jack, but we got a little bit ahead of that, so we’re in good shape,” Clarke said.

“ It’s a blow to us because he has done well for us and he plays a certain position in midfield that we don’t really have without him.

‘So we’ll miss him, but we have a really good team now, so it’s time for someone else to step up.

‘The little time we’ve had on the training field has been really good work, of high quality, so hopefully we can take that with us to the field. In my head I know the team. ‘

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