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Clarke in heated exchange with Stewart as Scotland boss slaps down criticism

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Scotland manager Steve Clarke has hit back at criticism from Michael Stewart over the team’s schedule of friendlies heading into Euro 2024. The fiery exchange followed Scotland’s draw with Finland in their final warm-up game for the Euros in Germany.

Despite an own goal from Arttu Hoskonen and a header from Lawrence Shankland, Finland managed to claw back a draw thanks to Benjamin Kallman and a penalty conceded by Craig Gordon on his 75th cap.

This means that Scotland have only won one of their last nine games, including high-profile friendlies against France and England.

When asked about his previous comments on “negativity” surrounding the team, Clarke told Premier Sports: “I’m not sure why people want to be so negative about a couple of friendly matches which are basically training matches for the tournament.

“Let’s look forward to the tournament, and there with a little bit of swagger and see what we can do.”

Ex-Manchester United, Hibernian and Hearts midfielder Stewart responded by saying: “Obviously the expectation was through the roof six months ago.

“You look to the game in Seville where it looked like they could do now wrong, but there has been some results against big opposition which….”

Clarke interjected firmly: “Yeah, but that’s my fault. I chose those games and made those difficult games. We now know when we go to the tournament that when we play against the top sides how good we have to be to get a result.”

Stewart responded: “You say it’s your fault, I don’t think you could say it’s a fault. It’s your decision.

“We have played against some top opposition, OK there is a bit of momentum that has gone out of things but hopefully that is no bad thing because it was through the roof going into that game against Spain.

“If we go into the games in Germany and get that bit of luck we know we have got a team capable of competing against top opponents. I have got no doubt about that, i just hope if falls our way.”

Clarke regained his composure and added: “Michael, that is what we think as well. That is the feeling within the dressing room.

“We are going to go there and be as competitive as we can be, and if we play to the best of our abilty we believe the results will come.”

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