Sport Steve Clarke salutes Scotland unsung heroes as he reveals 'dry camp' exception made for Serbia clash
Scotland player ratings: How Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Steve Clarke's team rated in dramatic World Cup qualifying win over Israel
Scotland twice came from behind at Hampden to take a dramatic win in World Cup qualifying. © Scotland's players stand during the national anthem ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F q... A stunning free-kick from Eran Zahavi silenced sold-out Hampden after just five minutes until John McGinn lifted the mood with a curling finish from the edge of the box. © Let down by his wall at free-kick opener (pictured), vital stop to deny Zahavi in second half.
Steve Clarke has saluted the unsung heroes who have kepton course for the World Cup.
The national coach is the main man. The overall leader of the entire group.
In his care are a host of top-class players who are at the centre of the spotlight and capture the headlines.
, though, has another key band of brothers in camp whom he acknowledges have been absolutely crucial in keeping the ship on course for Qatar.
Assistant manager John Carver has seen and done it all before and has acted as a vital influence since joining just over a year ago.
New coaches, Austin MacPhee and Chris Woods have also worked superbly to minimise the effects of major upheaval behind the scenes in this campaign alone after starting their new jobs just prior to the August matches against Denmark, Moldova and Austria.
Steve Clarke reveals whether Lyndon Dykes will take Scotland’s next penalty after Israel miss
Steve Clarke has praised Lyndon Dykes’ strength of character but revealed the striker won’t be given the chance to take Scotland’s next penalty. © Steve Clarke embraces Lyndon Dykes at full-time after the 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden (Photo by C... The Queens Park Rangers striker saw his first-half effort against Israel saved by former Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano on Saturday night.Dykes recovered from the setback to score Scotland’s second equaliser in the epic 3-2 win. However, Clarke isn’t willing to allow the striker to redeem himself from the spot anytime soon.
MacPhee didn’t even make that first trio of games in post having been forced into Covid isolation.
But he was there beside the rest of the new backroom trio for the critical wins secured over Israel and the Faroe Islands.
Clarke says their assistance has been crucial to him and have ensured continuity.
He stated: “These are the people I trust and rely upon to give me the right information at the right times.
“To give me help and support when I need it and, trust me, there are times when I need it.
“They are the ones who help me and they help the players a lot. I think you can see that over the course of the time. John’s a good and experienced coach. He says the right thing at the right time.
“He keeps me calm at the right time. He has his shout and his scream if he needs to from time to time, but he’s been a big, big help.
How the Scotland players rated in nervy 1-0 win over Faroe Islands
Scotland edged past the Faroe Islands to take another step towards the World Cup play-off places. © How the Scotland players rated against Faroe Islands. (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Im... Lyndon Dykes scored a late winner – his fourth goal in succession – to secure the three points in what was a tricky night in Torshavn. © A brilliant save to deny the home side in the first half. Held shots well and was a calm presence in...
“When you think the backroom staff to start with. Alex Dyer, Steven Reid and Stevie Woods.
“They have all gone and it’s been a constant evolution behind the scenes.
“But because we have good people coming doing good jobs, we have all managed to stay on the same path of going forward. I’m glad that’s been noticed. It’s very important.”
Clarke got them all together for a chinwag at the start of last week, but there was no big party bonding session.
Asked if it was with a pot of tea or over a few beers, he smiled: “There’s not a lot of alcohol in the camps.
“We do dry camps, although, obviously, Serbia last year was a little bit different!
“We just had a little meet-up before we came into those last two games. Everyone is scattered around the country, so you just really come together for the camps.
“We don’t really get the time. Austin is working at Villa, John is in the north east of England, I’m down the south. We catch up as and when we can. But it’s always nice to see them. I don’t know if they say the same about me!”
Steve Clarke explains why Scotland fans are now buying into his project
Steve Clarke believes confirmation of his first Hampden full house as international manager is proof fans are on board with his Scotland project. © Steve Clarke celebrated the recent win v Austria (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group) Clarke has named his squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Israel and the Faroe Islands. These fixtures form Scotland’s penultimate doubleheader in a group where they now sit in second place following wins over Moldova and Austria earlier this month.Clarke’s side are well-placed to secure a play-off berth.
Between the management team, they are squeezing every inch out of their troops and the dividends are there for all to see.
Scotland did not play well for a first half against Israel. They did not play well over an entire game in the Faroe Islands.
Yet, despite those scenarios, they waltzed off from the matches with six points out of six.
Youthful exuberance and daring has helped, but Clarke is quick to praise the older hands who bring composure and experience. Keeperwas a hero in Torshavn with a stunning first-half stop at 0-0 and the manager admits his all-round show was vital.
Clarke said: “We relied on Craig to make one fantastic save and his handling all night was excellent.
“A big, big factor in us getting a clean sheet was the fact we had a goalkeeper who could calm it down.
“His handling was great. He didn’t spill one thing.
“At times in the first half, the defenders were nervy in front of him.
“So that was important for us and kudos to Craig.
”It’s up there. Reaction save. It was important we didn’t go behind.”
Asked about the importance of experience within camp, he added: “It’s really important around the place.
“Liam Cooper came on for the final minutes with that maturity and experience.
“When I got Coops on the pitch, I couldn’t see us conceding after we got the 1-0.
“It took us a long time to get to 1-0, so I wanted to make sure we held it!
“I thought we played well in the second half. We weren’t good in the first half.
“The Faroes were better at doing what they did than us doing what we try to do.
“We played too safe at times and it allowed them to build a bit of tempo.
“Our job was to win. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it, so I was happy for myself, my players and my staff.”
Steven Caulker opens up on the end of his Scotland hopes, not playing for Celtic, saying sorry to Neil McCann and feeling humbled in a church in Kinross .
A WhatsApp message pings. It is Steven Caulker apologising for being waylaid ahead of our chat, originally arranged for 9pm. His schedule has been pushed back. © Steven Caulker (right) is all set to start a new international career with Sierra Leone, the country... It might now be nearer 10pm his time, which is fine.