Saturday, June 15, 2024

Scotland: What decisions face Steve Clarke in final Euro 2024 squad selection?

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There is just one warm-up match to go before the Scotland squad fly out to Germany for Euro 2024 – but who will be on that plane?

After naming a provisional squad of 28, Steve Clarke must trim that to 26 players by Friday’s midnight deadline – hours after that final friendly against Finland at Hampden Park.

There are fitness concerns for the head coach to weigh up, plus Lyndon Dykes and Ben Doak are out of the tournament after suffering injuries.

Here’s a look at who is almost guaranteed a spot on the plane to Germany and those who might face an anxious wait to see if they make the cut…

Decisions in defence

Starting with the goalkeepers, Clarke named four in his initial squad with No 1 Angus Gunn and Zander Clark expected to travel but what will happen to Craig Gordon and Liam Kelly?

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Angus Gunn (right) is Scotland’s No 1 having replaced Craig Gordon

It is expected one will miss out, so the decision will come down to experience or game-time. Kelly featured in every league match for Motherwell but has just one cap for the national team. Gordon, however, has 74 caps to his name and at 41 years old, would bring experience, but has only played seven games since suffering a double-leg break in December 2022.

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Captain Andy Robertson reflects on the last Euros, the Tartan Army’s support and Scotland’s target of reaching the knockout stages of a major finals for the first time in Germany

In front of the ‘keepers, Jack Hendry, Ryan Porteous, Scott McKenna, Andy Robertson, Greg Taylor, Kieran Tierney and Liam Cooper will be in the squad, as will Grant Hanley who is back after fitness concerns plus Ross McCrorie and Anthony Ralston who are Clarke’s right-back options after injuries.

However, what will happen to John Souttar? The defender missed Rangers’ last three games of the season and did not feature in the friendly against Gibraltar. With seven centre-backs in the squad – one may miss out.

The midfield make-up

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Will Ryan Jack and Stuart Armstrong make the final 26-man squad?

Again Clarke will know the vast majority of his midfielders who will travel – including the likes of Ryan Christie, Billy Gilmour, Kenny McLean, John McGinn, Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay.

But what will happen to Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Jack? Armstrong – who has not played due to injury since mid-April – should return to training next week but is he fit enough? And the same question could be asked of Jack who came on for 17 minutes on Monday, having last played in March.

Striker surprise?

Tommy Conway is in Scotland's under-21 squad
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Tommy Conway has been called up from Scotland’s U21 squad

With Dykes and uncapped Liverpool youngster Doak out, Che Adams and Lawrence Shankland give Clarke two options and James Forrest will provide width in the final squad.

However, could the uncapped Tommy Conway also be heading to Germany? Clarke promoted the Bristol City striker from the U21 side – just 24 hours after he scored against Turkey – while Scotland struggled past Gibraltar.

New York Red Bulls midfielder Lewis Morgan runs during an MLS soccer match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Saturday, April 27, 2024, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)
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Lewis Morgan has been used as a striker by New York Red Bulls, scoring nine goals and providing three assists this season

The day before Scotland’s squad needs to be finalised, Clarke also added in Lewis Morgan who has impressed in the MLS – scoring nine goals for New York Red Bulls this season.

Should Conway or Morgan get a chance against Finland and impress, a place in the final 26 could await.

Scotland’s Euro 2024 schedule

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The Scotland squad and coaches were in fine voice when asked to sign a song by Charlotte during a visit to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital

Scotland have history kicking off tournaments, having been drawn to face Brazil in the opener at World Cup 1998, a game they narrowly lost 2-1 to a second-half Tom Boyd own goal.

This time around the venue is the Munich Football Arena (Allianz Arena) where Steve Clarke’s kick-off the opening match of Euro 2024 against hosts Germany on June 14.

The Scots also face games against perennial qualifiers Switzerland in Cologne on June 19, with Hungary – who reached the knockouts in 2016 – awaiting in Stuttgart on June 23.

Scotland’s potential route to the final finishing as group winners…

If Scotland finish as winners of Group A but all other results at Euro 2024 go with the world rankings, the Scots’ opponents in the knockout rounds would be…

Round of 16: Saturday June 29 – Scotland vs Denmark (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

Quarter-final: Friday July 5 – Spain vs Scotland (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

Semi-final: Tuesday July 9 – Scotland vs Netherlands; kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Final: Sunday July 14 – Scotland vs France; kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

Scotland’s potential route to the final finishing as group runners-up…

If Scotland finish as Group A runners-up but all other results at Euro 2024 go with the world rankings, the Scots’ opponents in the knockout rounds would be…

Round of 16: Saturday June 29 – Scotland vs Italy (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

Quarter-final: Saturday July 6 – England vs Scotland (Merkur Spiel-Arena, Düsseldorf)

Semi-final: Wednesday July 10 – France vs Scotland; kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Final: Sunday July 14 – Spain vs Scotland; kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

If Scotland finish as one of four best third-placed teams…

One of:

Sunday June 30 – Group B winners vs third-placed side from Group A/D/E/F (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne)

Monday July 1 – Group F winners vs third-placed side from Group A/B/C (Waldstadion, Frankfurt)

Tuesday July 2: Group E winners vs third-placed side Group A/B/C/D (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Quarter-finals

If Scotland finish first in Group A and win round-of-16 game…

Friday July 5 (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

If Scotland finish second in Group A and win round-of-16 game…

Saturday July 6 (Merkur Spiel-Arena, Dusseldorf)

If Scotland finish as one of four best third-placed teams and win round-of-16 game…

One of:

Friday July 5 (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

Friday July 5 (Volksparkstadion, Hamburg)

Saturday July 6 – (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

Semi-finals

If Scotland finish first in Group A, win round-of-16 game and win quarter-final…

Tuesday July 9 – kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

If England finish second in Group A, win round-of-16 game and win quarter-final…

Wednesday July 10 – kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

If Scotland finish as one of four best third-placed teams, win round-of-16 game and win quarter-final…

One of:

Tuesday July 9 – kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Wednesday July 10 – kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

And finally, the final…

Sunday July 14 – kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

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