Scotland head coach Steve Clarke has revealed that Billy Gilmour was set to start in Tuesday’s decisive Euro 2020 match against Croatia until he tested positive for Covid-19.
The 20-year-old was man of the match in the 0-0 draw against England on Friday, impressing on his first start for Scotland, but the midfielder received news of his positive test on the eve of the national team’s final group game.
Gilmour now isolates for the next 10 days but the remaining 25 members of the playing squad, plus other staff, have all returned negative tests since, and no close contacts withinh the group have been identified.
However the Football Association have announced that England duo Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount, club teammates of Gilmour at Chelsea, are isolating as a precaution after interacting with the midfielder after the game.
Clarke said that the results meant he had been forced to rethink his plans for a game that Scotland need to win if they are to stay in the competition.
“[Billy is] upset, as you would expect,” he said. “He has no symptoms, hopefully his health will hold up.
“Billy would have started the game and now he won’t so it’s a chance for someone else to come into the team and make themselves a national hero.
“Obviously training was a little bit disrupted but the bulk of the work has been done over the pre-camp and the training days earlier in the tournament.
“You saw for yourself the team know exactly what they are doing when they get on the pitch. The team has been organised, they know what they have to do, and that will stand us in good stead.”
Scotland defender Liam Cooper admitted that the news had come as a blow to the whole squad as well as Gilmour but said that all focus was now on the task ahead against Croatia.
“It was a shock to us,” Cooper said. We stuck to the protocols and then this comes up.
“We just listen to the medical advice. Doc (John) MacLean has been clear and brilliant with us since day one. We have taken precautions around the training camp.
“We are gutted, I am sure he is gutted, but we have got to move on. We have a massive game and one we need to win, and that’s where all our focus lies now.
“We have been playing this system under the manager for a long time now and whatever player comes in knows the role and what they need to do.”