Steve Clarke tells Scotland stand-ins to seize their chance after losing 16 players ahead of Ukraine game

Steve Clarke oversees Scotland training at Oriam
Steve Clarke oversees Scotland training at Oriam

STEVE Clarke is sweating over the fitness of four key players ahead of Scotland’s final Nations League game against Ukraine here in Poland tonight after a virus swept through his already injury-ravaged squad.

Lyndon Dykes and Stuart Armstrong failed to take part in the national team’s training session at Oriam outside Edinburgh yesterday due to a sickness bug.

Che Adams and Greg Taylor also felt unwell, they but were able to take part in the final workout before of the Group B1 match in Krakow.

Clarke lost Scott McKenna (knee strain) and Kieran Tierney (concussion protocols) on Sunday while Scott McTominay is suspended after picking up a booking in the win over the Republic of Ireland on Saturday.

The Scotland manager estimates he is now without no fewer than 16 men for a game his side have to pick up a point in to top their section, clinch a Euro 2024 play-off spot and win promotion to League A.

However, he has backed the players who will feature in the Cracovia Stadium to rise to the occasion and help their country to record the result they require.

“We seem to have a little viral infection in the camp,” said Clarke. “Ryan Fraser actually had it the other night, he was up sick during the night before the Ireland game. Overnight we’ve had a few more feeling a little bit under the weather. They haven’t all been sick.

“But Lyndon Dykes and Stuart Armstrong didn’t train today because they had been sick quite late in the night. We gave them a bit of time to recover.

“One or two of the staff members haven’t been feeling too great so there seems to be a little bit of a virus in the camp. We’ve obviously got to manage and monitor the situation.

“If it goes the same way as it did for Ryan it’s less than 24 hours and then they’re okay again. So fingers crossed nobody else picks it up.

“Che Adams and Greg Taylor are two who have felt under the weather but they wanted to train. They came outside this morning, but Lyndon and Stuart didn’t feel and though training was the best thing to do. But they’ll all travel.”

Clarke added: “It’s been different. We’ve obviously picked up a lot of injuries too.

“I was totting up the injuries the other day and from my expanded pool of players, I’m missing something like 16 players. That’s quite a lot.

“As always in this kind of situation, you tend to find it’s the one position that’s targeted and it’s one very general position - and that’s in defence. We’ve lost a lot of defenders, and a few forwards as well.

“But in this situation I always say it’s not about the ones who have dropped out, it’s about the ones who are here and can step in. It’s a great chance for them to show everybody what they’re all about.”

Clarke will be able to field Aaron Hickey, the Brentford defender who limped off in the second-half of the 2-1 triumph over Ireland at the weekend after feeling his hamstring tighten up, at right back.

“The good news too is that Aaron Hickey trained this morning and it seems like we made the right decision in taking him off when we did the other night,” he said.

“It’s good he’s available. We also have Tony Ralston and Josh Doig who has looked good in training. Like I say, it’s now down to those boys to step forward and make their mark in the team.”