Scotland aim to impress against Gibraltar in first Euros warm-up game

Monday's friendly in Portugal is an important part of the preparations for Germany.

Scotland players aim to impress against Gibraltar in first Euro 2024 warm-up game SNS Group

Scotland face Gibraltar on Monday afternoon in the first of their Euro 2024 warm-up games with players keen to make their mark and show Steve Clarke they should be in his plans.

The opening match of the tournament is less than two weeks away and Scotland head coach Clarke has already had his players together training in Glasgow over the last few days.

The friendly in Faro, Portugal gives him the opportunity to experiment and put the players through their paces as he ponders his plans for the challenge against hosts Germany in the Allianz Arena on June 14, and the tests to follow against Switzerland and Hungary.

Clarke named a 28-man provisional squad for the two friendlies, with only 26 able to be registered for the finals. He has to make a decision on his final squad by Friday night, with a number of questions to be answered before then.

The expanded group was named because of a number of players who are returning from injury or short on game time and needing to prove their fitness and sharpness but a cruel injury to Lyndon Dykes has seen the QPR striker ruled out of the tournament.

Lydon Dykes will miss the Euros after suffering an injury in training. (Photo by SNS Group)

Clarke said on Sunday that he’s yet to decide on calling up a replacement for Dykes, meaning he’ll have a more limited choice of forwards for the match in Faro.

Che Adams and Lawrence Shankland are vying to be the starting striker, with fellow forwards James Forrest and Ben Doak more likely to take on wide roles.

The Gibraltar match is one of two friendlies the team will play before heading to Germany. After Monday’s match, the squad will return to Glasgow and play Finland at Hampden on Friday night in a game that will see the Tartan Army give the side a rousing send-off.

The stunning run of victories that sealed qualification last year was followed by a run of not so impressive results in friendlies and the team will be looking to regain momentum.

Monday’s opposition looks to have been hand-picked to give Scotland a return to winning ways before the challenges ahead.

Gibraltar are currently ranked 201st in the world and have lost their last 12 matches. That included a 14-0 thumping from France, a 6-0 reverse against Netherlands and 4-0 losses to Republic of Ireland and Wales.

While the manager and team would like nothing more than a load of goals and a comfortable win, Clarke’s wish to see a number of players in action could mean there’s a lot of change and some experimentation at Estadio de Algarve.

Speaking to STV on the day he announced his squad, Clarke suggested that the two friendlies would see completely different starting sides.

“They’re important games for various reasons,” the manager said. “Obviously you have a number of players in the pre-selection who need some minutes on the pitch.

“Some of the Championship boys in England finished on the first weekend in May so they’re going to need minutes. You’ve got players who are returning from medium-term injuries who will need that.

“The first game we can use for that, the second game at Hampden, hopefully in front of a full house for a big send-off game, will be closer to the starting 11 for the tournament, though it might not be the exact starting 11 because there’s always things that you can change or tweak.”

That’s sure to add an edge to Monday’s game, with those starting for Scotland fully aware of their need to impress, and keen to take the opportunity to force their way into the team.

Stuart Armstrong, Scott McTominay and Ben Doak all trained apart from the main squad on Sunday and may be considered unlikely to start, but Clarke will no doubt use all the substitutions available to him.

Anything other than a Scotland win will set alarm bells ringing so close to the tournament kicking off, but regardless of the result, the individual performances are likely to provide the talking points as the nation looks to see who might be in form and ready to light up the Euros when the real action comes around.

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