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Clarke expects tough test in Dublin for Scotland

The manager says Republic of Ireland will be in determined mood on Saturday.

Steve Clarke expects tough test for Scotland against Ireland SNS Group

Scotland boss Steve Clarke isn’t reading too much into Republic of Ireland’s recent results and believes they will pose tough questions for his team on Saturday.

The sides meet in Dublin in the Nations League, with the Irish team having lost both of their matches in the group so far.

Stephen Kenny’s side were beaten 1-0 by Armenia in Yerevan, then lost by the same scoreline at home to Ukraine.

Clarke pointed out the narrow margin of defeat and says his side won’t have anything easy at the Aviva Stadium.

“I expect a tough challenge,” he said. “Any team going to Dublin to play can expect a tough game.

“Obviously their last two games have gone against them but only by one goal.

“Previous to that they a really good eight-game run where they went unbeaten and within that eight-game run were Portugal and Belgium so we expect a tough game.” 

Ireland sit at the bottom of the group even though they have played a game more than Scotland and Ukraine. With the remaining three games after Saturday to be played in September, they need something against Scotland to keep their campaign alive.

“They probably started the group with high expectations,” Clarke said. “It hasn’t worked out for them in the two games so far but they’ll be looking at a home game against Scotland and hoping they can get a foothold in the group to make the games in September meaningful for them.”

Scotland bounced back from their own defeat to Ukraine in the World Cup play-off with a comfortable victory over Armenia. Clarke was pleased with that performance but with four internationals in the space of a fortnight, he intends to freshen the team up a little. However, he doesn’t think he’ll make wholesale changes.

“You have to react to different games and situations,” the manager said. “Results can change your mind a little bit.

“I was pleased with the team the other night and thought we did well. There will be some more rotations but maybe not as many as six.”

Clarke also revealed he had called another player up to the squad after two planned departures.

“I’ve lost a couple,” he said. “I mentioned a way back about wedding dates and Zander Clark and Liam Cooper have both left the squad to go away and get married and we wish them well.

“I have called up Robby McCrorie, who has come in as another goalkeeper, so good for Robbie.”