Scotland: What now for Shelley Kerr's side after Euro 2022 disappointment?

Finland celebrate
It was Finland, not Scotland, who were celebrating at Easter Road on Tuesday

Scotland will not be at the Women's European Championship in 2022 - the first major finals they have missed since the 2015 World Cup.

So, what now for Shelley Kerr's side, who's next chance to be at a major tournament will be the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand?

BBC Scotland and some former Scotland players assess the campaign and national team's future.

Where did it go wrong?

The qualification campaign for what was originally Euro 2021 could hardly have started better, with 16 goals scored without reply in wins over Cyprus and home and away against Albania.

An initial blow was dealt to their hopes when they lost 1-0 in Finland in October, by which time the finals had been postponed until 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Finns, coached by Kerr's predecessor Anna Signeul, went top of the group and suddenly Scotland had work to do. Another 1-0 loss in Portugal followed last week, with the Finns to come to Edinburgh.

But at Easter Road on Tuesday, the hosts huffed and puffed but could not blow the house down and the visitors struck the decisive blow with a catastrophic stoppage-time winner.

Afterwards, Kim Little and Lisa Evans and assistant coach Andy Thomson highlighted the frustration of having created so much without scoring in the past three games. More notably, Arsenal's Evans called for more "professionalism".

"We haven't been good enough," said Scotland's all-time top scorer Julie Fleeting on Sportsound. "When you're top seed and you're in third position, seven points behind, that speaks for itself.

"It's not good enough not to be qualifying for tournaments now and we need a reaction."

What happens next?

After February's rearranged matches against Cyprus and Portugal - both now dead rubbers - Scotland will not have another competitive match until 2022.

Australia and New Zealand were not confirmed as World Cup hosts until June of this year and the draw for qualification for Uefa nations has not yet been made.

Exhibition tournaments - such as the Pinatar Cup, which Scotland won in March - may be the best chance to get in some practice before what an important 2022, during which all of the World Cup qualifiers will be played.

"It's important that the team stay together, that they work through it, that they don't point the finger," Fleeting said. "In Scotland, we don't have thousands of players who are good enough to step up to this level so it's about making the best out of the players you've got."

Fellow Scotland international Steven Thompson said: "There had been so much positivity built up over the last two campaigns, it would be a shame to see that disappear.

"I'm sure it won't. Despite not reaching these finals, there's still a lot of forward steps been made in the last five years."

What of Kerr's future?

Kerr has missed the two more recent games after being forced to self-isolate. The former Arsenal manager was deemed a close contact to a Covid-19 case emerging from the Scotland Under-21 backroom staff.

She left the job of managing the Stirling University men's team to replace Signeul in 2017, just after Scotland had appeared at their first major women's tournament, the European Championships.

Under Kerr's guidance, the Scots made it two major finals in a row with their first World Cup appearance last year and they were on course to make the knockout stages with a 3-0 lead against Argentina.

Shelley Kerr
Kerr was the first manager to take Scotland to a Women's World Cup

However, a late collapse meant Argentina secured a 3-3 draw and controversy surrounded the fallout from the campaign with Kerr admitting she would "do things differently" after players were reduced to tears at a meeting the day after they were knocked out.

Captain Rachel Corsie later said Kerr and her backroom staff had apologised and the positive results against Cyprus and Albania appeared to have taken the heat out of the situation.

However, Evans' comments after Tuesday's game indicated at least some discontent in the camp, with the midfielder feeling "the full potential out of the squad" had not been reached.

Thompson added: "Questions are asked when things are going well, when things aren't going well. I don't think it's time to be making any rash decisions or judgements."

What of the squad?

Evans also said some of the squad may have played their last campaign. However, the majority of the squad are still in under 30, with most of those older than that still in their early 30s.

Fresh faces have been introduced in recent times, too, with defender Hannah Godfrey, midfielders Amy Muir and Samantha Kerr, and forward Kirsty Hanson have won their first caps in recent times.

Glasgow City's Jenna Clark, Celtic's Chloe Warrington, Rangers' Carly Girasoli and Spartans' Michaela McAlonie have established themselves in the under-19s and may be ready for the senior squad come 2022.

And Fleeting said of the February matches: "It maybe just gives Shelley the opportunity to see other players and see how they handle international football."

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