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Clarke unfazed by Scotland players’ suspension tightrope

Seven players in the squad are one booking away from a suspension.

Clarke unfazed by Scotland players’ suspension tightrope SNS Group

Scotland boss Steve Clarke insists he won’t give any thought to disciplinary concerns as he names his side to face Denmark at Hampden.

After booking a place in the play-offs to reach the World Cup, the national team are now looking for a positive result against the group winners to help ensure seeding and home advantage for the play-off semi-final.

However, seven of the Scotland players primed to face Denmark are one booking away from missing that crucial match in March and would be banned if they get a yellow card on Monday.

The rules say that any player who receives two yellow cards throughout qualification will miss the next game.

Captain Andy Robertson, John McGinn, Billy Gilmour, Che Adams, Jack Hendry, Kevin Nisbet, and Stephen O’Donnell are all likely to be in action against Denmark and risk suspension, while Scott McTominay also has a booking to his name but will miss the match through illness.

The national team manager feels the rule is unfair, particularly with Scotland being in a six-team qualifying group and playing more matches than some potential play-off opponents.

But Clarke says he can’t let the situation affect his thinking, with a positive result against Denmark being his priority.

“We just try and win the game against Denmark,” he said. “We’re not the only team in that position. It’s just the nature of the competition that you pick up yellow cards.

“Players at the top level who play a lot of matches are used to playing with a suspension hanging over them. We just deal with is as we can.

“As long as we get a normal referee the players are experienced enough to handle the situation.

“There’s also the fact that the yellow cards carry all the way through. You could try and protect some and then pick up yellow cards in the Denmark game, then in the first play-off game, reach the final and have the same scenario.

“There’s also four months until March and that’s a long time in football.”

Though the play-off spot is guaranteed, Clarke said that the main prize hadn’t yet been secured.

“The ultimate aim hasn’t been achieved,” he said. “The ultimate aim is to get to Qatar 2022.

“To be in a position coming out of the group stage that we’re still involved going into the March play-off games is where we were after we lost to Denmark away.

“We realised that second place was attainable and what we had to aim for. Five consecutive victories has made sure that we secured that one but the ultimate aim is still ahead.”