Serbia v Scotland: ‘Hopes of a nation’ inspires Steve Clarke’s side


Scotland head coach Steve Clarke still has "one or two" selection conundrums for the Belgrade showdown
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke still has “one or two” selection conundrums for the Belgrade showdown
Venue: Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade Date: Thursday, 12 November Time: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen to commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and follow live text updates on the BBC Sport website & app; watch highlights on Sportscene

Scotland will not be cowed by the weight of history, says captain Andy Robertson, as he pledged “the hopes of a nation” can inspire his side in the Euro 2020 play-off final with Serbia.

Victory behind closed doors in Belgrade on Thursday would end Scotland’s 23-year major tournament exile.

Liverpool’s Champions and Premier League winner Robertson says the game is “right up there” in his career.

“We’re desperate for it,” he said of the chance to quality.

“We want it and can feel how much our nation wants it. Of course there is pressure but we have to use that to our advantage.

“I was four when Scotland last got to a tournament and my whole generation has missed out on that. It definitely gives us an added incentive to put a smile on the faces of five million people back home.

“We also want to do it for the manager. We know how much he missed out on it as a player and how much it would mean to him.”

Steve Clarke’s side head to Serbia on an eight-match unbeaten run, having defeated Israel on penalties following a goalless draw in the semi-final last month.

Robertson rates captaining his country as the “proudest thing I’ll ever do in football”, but says he has not dared to dream of leading Scotland out at next summer’s rescheduled finals.

“I won’t let myself think about that until it’s done,” he said.

“Last month was big for us – the win on penalties then two big three points in the Nations League. Everyone has a smile on their face and we take that feelgood factor to Serbia.

“We’ve found a way of playing and getting results. That makes sure we are confident.

“Serbia are an excellent team full of quality. They’re probably favourites, but sometimes that can play into our hands. We’ve been underdogs before and produced good results.”

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‘Don’t come off the pitch with regrets’

Robertson and Clarke both urged the need for no regrets from a group of players who have got Scotland to within one game of qualification for the first time in 13 years.

“When you go into every game, [no regrets] is a message you give,” said Clarke.

“A game of this magnitude, I probably don’t need to say that because the players understand if they come off the pitch with regrets they’ll never forget that night.

“You go out there, do your best, give everything you can and hopefully the footballing gods smile on you and you get the right result.”

Clarke said he is still mulling over “one or two” selection dilemmas for the winter-takes-all tie.

“At the start of the week I had many, because the boys who missed out last month for different reasons were replaced by players who came in and did very well.

“So for me it was a few hours’ less sleep thinking about team selection and looking at the lads in training, seeing who’s good, who’s maybe a little bit off colour.

“But everybody was good, so that made my selection even more difficult.”



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