Scotland v Slovakia: Nations League still credible amid Covid chaos - Steve Clarke

Scotland set up a Euro 2020 play-off final in Serbia by ending past Israel on penalties on Thursday
Scotland set up a Euro 2020 play-off final in Serbia by ending past Israel on penalties on Thursday
Nations League: Scotland v Slovakia
Venue: Hampden Stadium, Glasgow Date: Sun, 11 Oct Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland and online.

It is "unfair" to "question the credibility" of international football amid coronavirus disruption, says Scotland head coach Steve Clarke.

Scotland lost three players for Thursday's Euro 2020 play-off win over Israel, and the Nations League double-header against Slovakia and the Czech Republic, because of Covid-19 issues.

That upheaval has been reflected across the international stage.

"I don't think it's so much about the credibility," said Clarke.

"You could level that at club football if they start to lose two or three players every week for whatever reason as well. You either go with the games or you don't. And if you go with the games you can't start to question credibility.

"It would be very unfair to say the problem with Covid is international football. It's not. Every industry is affected by it. It's a global pandemic."

Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong's positive test in the Scotland camp meant Celtic forward Ryan Christie and Arsenal full-back Kieran Tierney were forced to self-isolate after being in close proximity to him.

Celtic and Arsenal have questioned the test and trace rules, but Clarke warned against "pointing fingers at protocol".

He confirmed the Scotland squad all tested negative on Saturday for Sunday's Hampden tie against a Slovakia side missing two players who had returned positive results.

And Clarke is adamant the Nations League is still "worth it" as the pandemic continues to cause disruption across Europe.

"We've just proven on Thursday night how valuable the Nations League has been as it's given us a second opportunity to qualify for Euro 2020," he added.

'We have to freshen the team'

Clarke has quickly moved on from the euphoria of the penalty shootout win over Israel which secured a play-off final away to Serbia next month.

Scotland resume their Nations League campaign top of Group B2, having drawn with Israel last month before beating a makeshift Czech side.

"The Slovakia match was my immediate thought after the excitement and happiness of winning the shootout," Clarke said.

"We have to freshen the team a little bit, but don't want to lose focus on the good things from the last few games.

"It's six games unbeaten now and we want to keep that run going. The players who are here now have the chance to make themselves almost undroppable.

"All the players not in the squad this time have to do everything in their power to make sure they are fit and playing as well as they can to make my selection process as hard as possible."

My Scotland XI to face Slovakia

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