Connect with us

Football

Andy Robertson fit and ready to lead Scotland by example at Euro 2024

Published

on

The least welcome sight of Friday evening for Scotland supporters did not involve the two Finland goals that ensured Steve Clarke’s team head to Euro 2024 with a draw rather than a victory in their final warm-up. As Andy Robertson quickly downed tablets on the touchline, fears increased that Clarke was facing another selection blow before Germany.

The manager later eased concern by explaining Robertson felt nauseous during half-time of the 2-2 draw. There appeared no broader concern. Robertson was withdrawn shortly after the hour mark, having created Lawrence Shankland’s goal and fired the ball into the area that triggered Arttu Hoskonen to flick into his own net. Robertson remains one of Scotland’s key attacking threats.

“The performance from Andy, he was always on the front foot,” Clarke said. “That’s 49 games as captain now and that’s a record. You look at Andy and think: ‘Come on, Andy, there are a few more to come.’ He has been great for me. He came in and got the captaincy at a really young age but has really grown into the role. He’s a proper leader.”

The Liverpool defender is key to creating Scotland’s culture. In the dressing room at Hampden Park, the veteran goalkeeper Craig Gordon was presented with a signed shirt to mark reaching 75 caps. This was a bittersweet moment for the 41-year‑old, whose international career may be over after he was one of two players removed from the squad that will travel to Germany on Sunday. At the other end of the scale, Tommy Conway made his debut against Finland.

“Tommy got a strip signed with a number one on it. There was one with 50 on it for Grant Hanley and 75 for Craig,” Clarke said. “These things come from the captain. It’s his idea, it’s his thoughts going into this saying: ‘This is what we’re about. Let’s keep the group right and make sure we are always giving these little mementoes.’

“They get a silver medal for 25 caps and a gold medal for 50. I don’t know what they get for 75 and it always takes about a month before they get those medals, so it’s nice on the night to actually give something out.”

Lawrence Shankland scores with a header against Finland at Hampden Park. Photograph: Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Scotland seem relieved to be heading to the tournament. Eight months have passed since they qualified, with friendly performances in the meantime routinely posing more questions than answers. Clarke is confident his players will be all right on the night. Namely, when opening the tournament against the hosts on Friday before they take on Switzerland and Hungary, with the aim of reaching the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time.

Clarke is adamant Scott McTominay, who has missed June’s friendlies, will be available for selection. “The competitive edge will be back,” Clarke said. “The desire to not lose. We will be full on, 100%.

“I’m not saying we went out against Finland to try and lose, but you go out and it’s always in the back of your mind.

“What happened with Lyndon [Dykes, who broke down injured in training] spooked them a little bit. Now that they’re there, they’re in the competition, it’s full steam ahead.”

skip past newsletter promotion

It would be a surprise if Che Adams does not spearhead the attack against Germany.

Still, Shankland’s header on Friday will have given the 28-year-old Hearts striker fresh confidence. His third goal in 11 Scotland appearances came after the frustrating drawing of a blank against Gibraltar and, as a substitute, Northern Ireland.

“It meant quite a lot to him. He gave me a big smile when he came off,” said Clarke of Shankland. “It’s important because strikers live on goals.

“Lawrence was a little bit frustrated after the Gibraltar game because any chances that fell didn’t fall to him. But he kept getting in there and he eventually got his head on one.”

Continue Reading