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Steve Clarke intends to do what he feels is right as Scotland games build up

Scotland v Austria – FIFA 2022 World Cup – Qualifying – Group F – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Scotland manager Steve Clarke is prepared to ask a large number of his players to start three games inside a week if he feels that is the best option.

Clarke’s squad set off for Israel on Saturday afternoon after opening their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-2 home draw against Austria on Thursday.

Clarke will wait until seeing his players on Sunday morning before finalising his team for the clash in Tel Aviv later in the day.

QPR manager Mark Warburton expressed his frustration after his striker, Lyndon Dykes, started every game of an international triple header in October.

Lyndon Dykes

Lyndon Dykes in action against Austria (Jane Barlow/PA)

But with the Faroe Islands to visit Hampden on Wednesday, the Scotland boss will only change his team if it suits him.

With a full squad to pick from, Clarke said before setting off for the airport: “I will sleep on it. We have a long flight out there and I will see how they wake up in the morning.

“There’s still one or two suffering little knocks and niggles from the game the other night, although they will all be fit for kick-off. We will just see how they are and gauge the feeling. There’s times you don’t look too far ahead.”

Clarke picked a new-look back three on Thursday with Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry winning their first caps since 2018 alongside Kieran Tierney.

Grant Hanley, right

Grant Hanley (right) scored against Austria (Jane Barlow/PA)

“There’s always a case for keeping it the same and learning about each other and working with each other, but also the case where you might need one or two fresh legs in the team,” he said.

“That’s something we will decide on after a little sleep.

“Obviously defensively the more people play together the better their understanding and the same applies right through the team.

“You are looking for continuity and consistency but you know you have to freshen the team at certain times. That’s the balancing act we have to get right.

“It’s just concentrating on each game as it comes and then from there work out what you are going to do in the next game. I don’t think you can plan too far ahead, certainly not in these times. You just have to be prepared to make some changes if you need to.

“If you have to go with the same players, they are all fit enough to play three games in a week, they do that with their clubs all the time. If we have to do that, that’s what we will do.”

Scotland v Israel

Scotland and Israel met three times in the autumn (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland are facing Israel for the fourth time this season and the sixth time in two and a half years. They have lost both away games, the second one a 1-0 defeat in November with Clarke at the helm.

“I think it will be a similar game to previous ones: tight,” the former Kilmarnock manager said. “Both teams are evenly-matched. They are a good team, have threats in key areas.

“The November game we were chasing the win because we wanted to top the Nations League section. We conceded the first goal which always make your chase a little bit more frantic. Sometimes when you are frantic you just need a little bit more composure just to find the key finish in the game, and we didn’t manage to do that.

“Certainly if we create enough chances and get enough pressure on the Israelis, as we did in that game, I’d like to think we have boys on the pitch that can score goals.

“Maybe in a tight game this time we will be the team that comes down on the winning side.”