Scotland boss Steve Clarke is confident his international tournament rookies will have no fear at Euro 2020.
The Scots will end a 23-year major tournament absence when facing the Czech Republic in their Euro 2020 opener at Hampden on Monday June 14.
Clarke’s squad then play England, one of the tournament favourites, at Wembley before hosting beaten World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia.
Scotland will kick-off in Euro 2020 buoyed by a record of just two defeats in the previous 16 games.
Clarke believes that run, which includes beating Serbia in the Nations League play-off final to qualify for the Euros, means his squad will have no fear – only self belief.
He said: “I don’t think we have to be afraid.
“They gained confidence and definitely got a big shot in the arm when they managed to break the hoodoo and qualify in the game against Serbia.
“Over a period of time we have worked hard on trying to get better and better
“Since then they have started to believe in themselves a wee bit more and the more good results you get against good teams then the more you believe.
“We have worked hard over the last year or 18 months.
“We have put together a decent run of two defeats in 16 games.
“So that is a reasonable run at any level of professional football.
“We are in a good place going into the tournament and we just want to be competitive and do the very best we can.’
Scotland completed their pre-season warm up games with a 1-0 defeat of 10 man Luxembourg, 96th in the FIFA world rankings.
Despite registering 18 shots, six on target, and nine corners a first half goal from Che Adams was the difference against a Luxembourg side a man down for almost an hour.
Clarke opted to field a strike partnership of Lyndon Dykes and Adams from the start at the Stade Josy Barthel and has refused to rule out starting the duo up top against the Czechs.
Asked if the wasted opportunities against Luxembourg were a concern, Clarke said: “I don’t think so.
“We probably let ourselves down a little bit with the finishing.
“However, when you are creating chances you know the goals will come.
“We have scored enough goals in recent matches to know that we can score against international opponents.
“As long as we defend properly and defend well one might be enough.
“That’s key, that’s crucial.
“If we get the selections right, the team right and the shape of the team right.
“It’s always difficult when you come to the last friendly before you go to a major tournament.
“You can try as much as you like to say the right things and make sure everybody is flat out.
“But when the tournament is so close to starting it’s difficult to get that last little bit.
“I think the finishing was just the last little bit that we didn’t quite have.
“It’s always nice to have two strikers on the pitch and we finished the same way when we took a defender off.
“You can’t say we didn’t try to get the next goal.
“We finished up with a 4-2-4 formation which gave us four chances and unfortunately we couldn’t finish them.”
Clarke’s squad are bidding to make history at Euro 2020 as Scotland have never qualified from the group stages of a major tournament.
That tournament heartache is spread over eight World Cup finals (1954, 58, 74, 78, 82, 86, 90 and 98) and two Euros (92 and 96).
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) June 6, 2021
Euro 2020 offers a strong opportunity to break that group qualification hoodoo.
Not only do the top two sides of each group qualify the four best placed nations in third spot will also progress.
Clarke has no injury concerns following the pre-tournament warm-up games against Netherlands (2-2) and Luxembourg.
The only absentee is John Fleck who has been self-isolating having tested positive for Covid-19 in the squad’s training camp in Spain on the eve of the Netherlands game.
However Fleck is set to return to training with the squad later this week.
Clarke has all 26 of his squad fit and available.
He said: “I have selection headaches all over the pitch.
“The boys that played midfield against Holland were really good, I enjoyed the way that midfield three played.
“It was a different midfield against Luxembourg.
“I said last week that I wanted headaches.”
Luxembourg represented the final opportunity in a game scenario for Clarke to work on aspects of the Scots’ play before the Euro 2020 finals begin.
He admits the red card to Vahid Selimovic in the 34th minute for hauling back Lyndon Dykes diminished the exercise slightly.
Clarke believes there should be scope in friendlies with nothing but pre-tournament preparation at stake to replace a player who has been dismissed for non violent conduct.
He said: “The red card definitely had an effect on the game.
“It would have been better to keep it at eleven players.
“Sometimes in a friendly match like that for that type of offence there could be a rule where you are allowed to replace a player.
“I don’t know if it’s feasible. For violent conduct or whatever the red has to be the red.
“But maybe if it’s something like that they could look at it.
“Luxembourg still gave us a a good work out with ten.
“They defended well, they dropped deep and they play with a lot of ambition going forward.”
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 7, 2021