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By STEPHEN McGOWAN Chief Football Writer

STEVE CLARKE insists Scotland need to regain the fear factor to mix it with Europe’s best teams. Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Norway followed a stalemate in Georgia and extended the national side’s winless run to five games. With a place at next summer’s Euro finals secured before both games, Clarke admits his side found it hard to retain the competitive edge they need to function at their best. And, with four friendlies left before Euro 2024, the Scotland boss will seek out the toughest opponents he can in a quest to bring back the fear of losing. ‘We want to be competitive every time we go to the pitch,’ admitted Clarke. ‘But we know that we have to be 100 per cent. ‘Maybe in the last two games, because we had qualified, we weren’t. We had never been in that situation before. ‘It would be fantastic to be in this situation again, don’t get me wrong, but we had never been in this situation before. I had never been in that situation before. ‘You have to find that extra motivation where you go out onto the pitch with the fear of losing. I don’t think we had that in the last two games. You need to play with the fear of losing matches. That just gives you that little bit extra edge.’ Clarke will attend the Euro draw in Hamburg on December 2 before getting to work on finding competitive warm-up

games likely to get the juices flowing. He added: ‘We will go away, we will wait for the draw, we will see who is around, we will see who wants to play us, we will look for teams we want to play as well and then we will see what is the best way to go about it. But I would like competitive matches because you need that competitive edge. ‘Hopefully, I will pick four decent friendlies.’ Rejecting the idea of lining up some confidence-boosting games against lower-ranked nations, he fears his players would learn nothing from replicating the 14-0 thrashing of Gibraltar by France. ‘We need competitive games,’ said Clarke (pictured). ‘There are not too many easy games at international level. ‘France might think there are one or two easier games. But I don’t think you learn enough from a game like that or playing a Pot 5 or Pot 6 team or whatever. ‘I will be looking for Pot 1, Pot 2, Pot 3, Pot 4 teams. ‘It would be better if it was teams that aren’t going to the Euros.’ Missing first-pick players Angus Gunn, Andrew Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey and Che Adams, Clarke used the Norway game to experiment with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Disappointed by the failure to give a sold-out Hampden Park the sign-off the campaign deserved, he admitted: ‘We are Scotland, we have to go into every game determined to be competitive. ‘I didn’t think we did that in the first half. But we did a lot better in the second half. ‘There is always disappointment when you don’t feel that you’ve played to the level that you know you can play at. That was disappointing. ‘Listen, I am not going to be too hard on this group of players because they have been fantastic for us. And don’t forget that Norway were the next closest seed to us. ‘We took four points off them, we took four points off Georgia, we took six off the bottom team and the qualification game was the night here at Hampden when we beat Spain 2-0. ‘Don’t forget how good they were that night and how good the performance was. Yeah, it would have been nice to finish with a flourish instead of conceding a late equaliser just as we were about to put on another centre-half and shore the game up. We conceded, but, fortunately, that hasn’t happened too much during the course of the campaign.’

Euro 2024




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