Mixed feelings for Steve Clarke as Erling Haaland misses Hampden clash

The Scotland boss says his players would have been tested by the Manchester City star.

Steve Clarke has mixed feelings as Erling Haaland misses Scotland v Norway SNS Group

Scotland boss Steve Clarke says he has mixed feelings about Erling Haaland’s absence from Sunday’s match against Norway.

The Manchester City star withdrew from the Norway squad on Saturday morning after injuring his foot in Thursday’s friendly win over Faroe Islands.

The striker, who has 27 goals from 29 international appearances, would have been his country’s main goal threat.

Scotland’s comfortable position as one of the sides who have already qualified for Euro 2024 ahead of the final qualifier has shaped Steve Clarke’s opinion on Haaland’s absence, with the manager noting that playing against him might have been good for his players.

“I think for the crowd it would have been great to see a player of Erling Haaland’s standard at Hampden,” he said.

“It would have been good for the defenders to test themselves against a top striker but unfortunately he’s not fit.

“If you asked me that question before a game that really meant something I’d probably be sitting here saying ‘yes, I’m delighted he’s not playing’ but for the game tomorrow, I think it would have been better if he played.”

Scotland have only the slimmest chance of topping the group and would need Spain to lose to Georgia but a win over Norway by more than a goal would be most likely see the national team in seeding pot two when the Euro 2024 draw is made.

With teams across Europe still unsure of their finishing position, there is some debate about the real benefits of a higher seeding but Clarke says he isn’t giving the matter any thought.

“Honestly, zero, I haven’t looked at it,” said Clarke. “It doesn’t concern me.

“The main objective was to be there. Pot two, pot three… it’s all speculation because you don’t know how the other games are going to pan out so we’ll go out and do our best to win the game and then we’ll decide after that whether we want to be in pot two or pot three.

“[Being in pot two] is not significant at all in my mind. I don’t think too much about it.

“I just want to win game to game and make sure we’re always competitive whoever we play. We were seeded in pot two in the draw for this campaign and we want to be a pot two team going into the World Cup campaign.

“If we can get to pot one, it would be great but that’s a long way away at the moment.”

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