Steve Clarke has reacted to the Scotland virus situation that has wiped out three of his crucial players from contention against Israel tonight.
The Scotland manager will be without Arsenal left-back Kieran Tierney, Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie and Southampton playmaker Stuart Armstrong after the latter tested positive for COVID-19, Tierney and Christie self-isolating as per track and trace.
It’s a huge blow for Clarke as the three players in question are key men in his national team plans. Scotland face Israel again at Hampden in Euro 2020 play-off semi-final action, looking to book their place in a play-off final with Norway or Serbia next month.
Victory in both these games would bring about Scotland’s return to a major tournament for the first time since 1998. They’ll have to do part of it at least without three of their key players as Clarke, speaking at his press conference, says it’s something they must deal with ahead of ‘difficult decisions.’
“It’s been a difficult times for us in camp, especially for the people involved in the immediate process,” said Clarke. “Stuart Armstrong came in and tested negative when we had the UEFA tests.
“The results then came through and unfortunately Stuart has tested positive. By association, the NHS have done their track and trace and we have identified another four people who are out.
“They are key players for us. I have some difficult decisions to make, some other decisions to make in terms of team selection which really is my main focus now. Hopefully everyone involved will come through with no issues, the health of anybody is more important than any game of football.
“I have now spoken to all three players involved in the situation, they are very disappointed not to be involved in such a big game. Everyone else has had a negative test. Now as the national manager I have to make sure we get the team on the pitch in the right frame of mind and ready to go for a positive result.”