Clarke hopes Scotland midfielders get game time before Israel clash

The manager has included Callum McGregor and Stuart Armstrong in his Scotland squad.

Clarke hopes Scotland midfielders get game time before Israel clash SNS Group

Scotland manager Steve Clarke is hoping two of his Scotland midfielders get much-needed game time before the national team face Israel and Faroe Islands.

Clarke named his squad for the crucial World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday and included Celtic’s Callum McGregor and Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong in the group.

Both have been hit by injuries and haven’t played recently. McGregor has missed Celtic’s last four games with a knock but is returning to full fitness. Armstrong hasn’t played all season as he has worked his way back from a calf injury he sustained in pre-season.

With Scotland needing six points from the upcoming games to stay on track for second place in their qualifying group and a shot at the World Cup play-offs, Clarke can’t take many risks but he said he was hopeful both players would get game time and be back up to speed before the international camp.

The Scotland boss said: “When you name a squad there is still 11 days until match day so there’s plenty of time, a couple of games.

“Callum is in that situation, Stuart Armstrong is in a similar situation but I am hoping that they will both get some minutes over the next couple of games and be fit and available to join the squad.

“The medical staff have been in constant touch, we know where the players are at and as always we will treat them as well as we can.”

Clarke, who welcomed Manchester United’s Scott McTominay back to the squad, also discussed an addition to his coaching staff.

Former Hearts coach Austin MacPhee, now at Aston Villa, had previously been added to the set-up but missed his first camp after contracting Covid before the Denmark match, while Steven Naismith stepped in to assist in his absence. Both are now part of the group working to deliver success against Israel and Faroe Islands, with Clarke explaining what each brings to the squad.

He said: “Austin has recovered from Covid thankfully, so he will join us for the first time.

“He will bring something different to the staff, fresh ideas, which is good. As a coach, I always like to be challenged, I like to challenge the players so Austin will do that, he will bring in something different.

“Steven Naismith jumped in at the last minute to help out in the last camp and I have decided to keep Steven on the staff for this camp as well, he is a good conduit between myself and the players and obviously I have my trusted side-kick John Carver who does a great job for us.”

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