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Clarke hails solid Scotland defence as players settle in system

The Scotland boss was impressed with debutant Andy Considine as Scotland kept a clean sheet.

Clarke hails solid Scotland defence as players settle in system SNS Group

Scotland manager Steve Clarke was full of praise for his defence, and debutant Andy Considine, after a 1-0 win over Slovakia kept the national side at the top of their Nations League group.

Lyndon Dykes scored his second goal in four games to seal three points but a solid defence was the foundation for the win with Clarke sticking with a back three.

Injury to Liam Cooper meant that Andy Considine, a late-call-up to the squad, made his international debut at the age of 33, slotting in alongside Declan Gallagher and Scott McTominay.

“It was a good performance from start to finish,” Clarke said. “We made the system work well against a system we hadn’t come up against before, the 4-3-3.

“A good solid performance defensively, we kept good control of the game.

“We looked a threat going forward, which was nice to see.”

The three-man defence has drawn criticism in recent games, with some saying that McTominay has looked uncomfortable away from the midfield role he fills at Manchester United. After another clean sheet and an unbeaten run now stretching to seven games, Clarke said he didn’t feel vindicated, just pleased to secure a win.

“It’s not about justification or making ourselves feel good,” he said. “It’s about getting results for the country. If we feel that that’s the way that we’re going to get results then that’s what we’re going to work on.

“Nobody said it was going to be perfect and it’s still not perfect. We can still be better.

“And we can still play with a back four in certain games where it suits us.

“Tonight (Scott) McTominay, who supposedly couldn’t play right-side centre-back, was excellent again. Declan Gallagher was excellent again, and Andy Considine on his debut at 33, didn’t let himself down, he was really good.”

“The good thing from my point of view and one of the reasons that Andy jumped straight in my mind for the call-up is because that Aberdeen have been playing with a back three this year and Andy has been playing on the left side of it.”

Considine is the oldest Scotland debutant in 53 years but Clarke said he had no hesitation at putting the veteran Aberdeen player into the heart of his defence.

“I knew he would slot in well but it’s difficult in international football,” he said. “You play Thursday night and then Friday and Saturday are really just recovery days and so we did a lot of work in the meeting room and a little walk-through on possible problems and tactical issues this morning at the training ground.

“So you don’t get a lot to get to know your team-mates. He came in very late and adapted very well, but that’s experience for you. I knew he could cope.”