Former Scotland international Paul Hartley has backed Steve Clarke to guide the nation out of the group stages at Euro 2020.
In doing so, Clarke would be the first Scotland manager to achieve the feat, with the national side falling at the group-stage hurdle in their previous tournament qualifications.
Scotland get their Euros campaign under way in a week’s time against Czech Republic at Hampden Park – a team they beat twice in their Nations League group last year.
Hartley played in arguably the biggest tournament near-miss for Scotland in recent times – qualification for the European Championships in 2008 – and feels Clarke has got the quality within his squad to go beyond the group stages.
The Cove Rangers manager said: “I think we’ve got a strong squad – I don’t think we could have picked a better one to be honest. I think it’s really strong in every department.
“I’m looking forward to cheering on the nation, I always do. I’m a big Scotland supporter.
“I played for my country 25 times and love watching them. I wish Steve Clarke all the best.
“I think we’ve got a good chance of getting through. I think we’ve got enough quality in the squad. You want to be the first manager to get out of the group stages – we’ve not managed that – so that should be the aim.
“We don’t want any hard-luck stories. It’s always been a hard-luck story with Scotland. We want to get through and push on again.”
After the Czech Republic game next Monday, Scotland face England at Wembley four days later and then Croatia in their final group game on Glasgow on June 22.
The England game comes shortly after the 25th anniversary of the two sides meeting in the same tournament – and same city – at Euro 96.
Alan Shearer had given England the lead at the old Wembley Stadium, before Gary McAllister’s penalty, where the ball appeared to move before he struck it, was saved by David Seaman.
The tournament hosts sealed the group win with a memorable goal from Paul Gascoigne.
Hartley – a young player at Hamilton Accies at the time – was a hamper boy taken along by Scotland manager Craig Brown, along with Grant Brebner, Jamie Buchan and Marc Anthony.
He reflects fondly on the experience of being part of the squad and training with players like McAllister, Ally McCoist and Jim Leighton.
Hartley added: “It was a brilliant experience going to the games, being along with the team and training with the quality of players you were training with.
“I was in the first-team at Hamilton at the time. It was a brilliant experience and I came back that summer and got a move to Millwall.
“I remember the England game as if it was yesterday. There was obviously the big moment in the game which changed it for Scotland (the penalty), then obviously (Paul) Gascoigne scores a brilliant goal.
“I remember being right behind the dugout watching the game. The build-up to the game was magnificent and looking back now, it’s an experience I’ll always live with. It goes by so quickly.”