Scotland captain Andy Robertson knows what it takes to be a winner, having lifted the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and Premier League with Liverpool.
He has surveyed the Scotland squad set to compete at Euro 2020 and is confident manager Steve Clarke has a group of winners to call upon.
Teenage midfielder Billy Gilmour today met up with the Scots, having pocketed a Champions League winners medal as part of the Chelsea squad that defeated Manchester City 1-0 in the final in Porto.
An unused substitute in Saturday’s final, Gilmour was given a few days off, but will be in contention for tonight’s friendly clash with Netherlands at the Estadio Algarve in Portugal.
Robertson, 27, said: “The more you win at club level, the more you bring a winning mentality into the international team.
“I think we are seeing the benefits of so many players playing at a really high level and competing for really big trophies.
“We have always had that with the Celtic and Rangers boys who came in after showing they are able to win trophies in Scotland.
“However, we have people who have shown they can win down south as well.
⚽️🎾 Game, set, match!
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 29, 2021
“Unfortunately for Scott (McTominay), Manchester United just fell short in the Europa League final, but Billy won something.
“And in other big games we’ve got guys like (John) McGinn scoring winners in play-off finals, people getting promoted.
“It’s all that feeling of achieving something and the more winners you have in your group the better.
“We have a few racking up (medals) and hopefully more to come.
“There are a lot of young players who are showing a lot of promise and looking to win more and more trophies.
“Obviously the older boys are still hungry for success as well.”
Best defender in the world is missing
Scotland will tonight step up their preparations for the Euro 2020 campaign with the first of two friendlies when facing Netherlands, before playing Luxembourg on Sunday.
Netherlands will also compete in the Euros and Robertson is disappointed his Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk, who he rates as the “best defender in the world” will not be involved.
Van Dijk ruled himself out of captaining the Netherlands at Euro 2020 to focus on regaining full fitness from the cruciate ligament injury that ended his season in October.
Feeling strong, feeling good! 😁 pic.twitter.com/ZyjKqeJyaV
— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) May 12, 2021
Robertson said: “At one point, it maybe looked likely that Virg would make the Euros.
“It looked like this would be his first game back and I would have liked nothing more than to play against him.
“I have seen the big man go through his rehab, struggling at times of course, and now coming through the other side with his smile getting bigger and bigger again.
“He feels as if he is close to fitness and close to playing again.
“It is tough, because I want my mates to do well and I want my friends to play at the biggest tournaments when they qualify.
“To see him not make it is hard, but he has made the best decision for his career.
“He seems quite content with that decision.
“Obviously he is disappointed, but he has made the best decision for his body and that’s why he has ruled himself out.
“It’s a huge loss for Holland, but from a selfish point of view, if he is fully fit and ready for next season, then that obviously helps Liverpool because – for me – he I the best defender in the world.
“Hopefully next season and in other seasons to come he will show that again.”
John Fleck tests positive for Covid-19
On the eve of tonight’s game, midfielder John Fleck tested positive for Covid-19 at Scotland’s training base in Alicante, Spain.
The 29-year-old Sheffield United player has to self isolate in accordance with Spanish Government protocol and did not travel to Portugal for the friendly.
The rest of the squad all recorded negative results when retested.
Robertson said: “Luckily we’ve got two doctors here and Graham Jones, the head of performance, is always on at us.
“The hotel is set up all socially distanced, there’s one or two metres between the coffee machines and at least McGinn has a big voice that can carry so we can hear what he’s saying.
“We’re usually outside in the fresh air as well.
“It’s unfortunate for Flecky.
“We’ve all tested three times since then and there’s been no more positives.
“It’s not spread through the squad, so the protocols are working.
“Flecky will be ready when he gives a negative test and luckily it’s happened soon enough that he won’t miss the Euros.
“It just means we’ll need to be even more careful the closer we get.
“The boys are already switched on to it and we just need to make sure we get no other positive tests.”
Scotland on high alert for Covid-19 threat
While Scotland have been adhering to strict coronavirus protocols and undergoing regular testing, Robertson insists they will have to heighten their caution even further to avoid the nightmare scenario of players missing the Euros due to Covid-19.
He said: “It’s something that’s always in the back of your mind, because as a young fit healthy player – and Flecky as far as I’m aware isn’t showing any symptoms – it’s tough to say you’re staying in your room for five days when he probably feels quite healthy.
“But that is this virus unfortunately.
“It doesn’t affect some people, but others it does and we’ve seen the death toll and the number of people who have been infected.
“It’s so important we take it seriously.
“We’ll have to heighten that caution even more the closer we get, because we don’t want anyone missing out for something that can hopefully be avoided.”
Friendlies vital for Scotland’s Euro 2020 preparation
Robertson believes the friendlies against Netherlands and Luxembourg will be vital preparation for the Euros.
Robertson said: “The three teams in our group are incredibly tough games in different ways and, to prepare for them, the Dutch game is perfect.
“They’re a nation with world-class players and we want to test ourselves against the best, so it’s a good warm-up game and we hope it’s a good warm-up for them as well.
“The last four or five days have been really good and now it’s about taking what we’ve done at training into these games and, if we do that, we’ll get closer to where I believe we need to be for the tournament starting.
“Luxembourg will be a different game and maybe we’ll have a bit more possession than we will against the Dutch, but they’re both really good games to have and will stand us in good stead for the three big ones.
“Everything we’re doing is to work towards those three games.
“The crunch comes the following week.”