Steve Clarke to have ’empathy’ for players that miss out on Euros squad

Manager Steve Clarke reflected on his own big tournament disappointments ahead of his final 23-man squad selection for Euro 2024.

Steve Clarke to have ’empathy’ for players that miss out on Scotland Euros squad SNS Group

Steve Clarke’s big tournament disappointment as a Scotland player means he will have empathy with those he has to leave out of his Euro 2024 squad.

The former St Mirren and Chelsea full-back played six times for Scotland between 1987 and 1994 but failed to make the cut for the 1990 and 1998 World Cups and the 1992 and 1996 Euros.

Clarke was close to selection on a couple of occasions but his ambitions to play at a major international tournament remained unfulfilled, which is why he knows exactly how some players will feel when he picks his 23-man squad for Germany, where Scotland will face the hosts, Switzerland and Hungary.

He said: “The 1990 one was actually closer than 1998 because by that time I had more or less given up.

“Craig Brown did cap me in 1994 against Holland in the last game before they went to the World Cup.

“But I just felt that between 1994 and 1998 I was playing some of the best football I ever played because I was playing with better players and I was in a really good place.

“I felt my versatility might get me into the squad, but Craig Brown had other ideas. I didn’t really understand at the time. But now I understand completely.

“I was also very close to selection for Italia 90 with Andy Roxburgh. We took a 26-man squad to Genoa in February for a pre-camp and I was in it.

“I didn’t go in the summer because, at the time, I was having issues at Chelsea. I wasn’t playing regularly. Andy just phoned me up and said, ‘listen, if you are not playing with Chelsea then I can’t pick you’.

“I even fell out with Bobby Campbell at Chelsea because he wouldn’t pick me.

“I’d been called up for the 1-1 game against Norway when we qualified. I just sat on the bench that night. Big Erland Johnsen scored for Norway, who I played with at Chelsea.

“So listen, I understand it. I get it. When I do have to make those decisions at least the players will know I do have empathy for them, because I have been in that situation myself.

“There is a long way to go before you get there, so I am not going to beat myself up for the next six months wondering what is going to happen, because players will get injured.

“Maybe somebody will turn up who you think ‘he’ll make us better’, and that’s without going down the line of the Newcastle players (the uncapped Anthony Gordon, Elliot Anderson, Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento are all eligible) and all the rest of it, it is just that something might turn up, you never know.

“So no, I am not going to beat myself up. It will be a really tough decision. But one that, if I am being honest, I look forward to making, because that’s my job.”

Clarke has a reputation of being loyal to his players but he insists performances will be paramount when he sits down to make his final squad selection.

The former Kilmarnock and West Brom boss said: “Loyalty is part of it, but with that loyalty must come performances. So long as they are performing for me and for the country then the loyalty can be rewarded. If the performances are not there it’s more difficult to be loyal.

“It’s going to be a difficult 23 man selection. As my coaches keep telling me, that’s why I get paid the big bucks.”

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