Steve Clarke plays down risk of giving Scotland squad two days off with family

Steve Clarke has insisted there is minimal risk attached to letting his Scotland players have two days with their families before reporting to their Euro 2020 base in the north-east of England.

Fears around the impact of coronavirus on the European Championship have been heightened by a positive test returned by Spain’s Sergio Busquets. Scotland’s John Fleck remains in isolation in a Spanish hotel room after he tested positive during a training camp last week. The Fleck scenario meant Clarke left six more players out of the friendly against the Netherlands last week as a precaution.

Following the 1-0 victory in Luxembourg on Sunday, Clarke allowed his squad to travel home. They will reconvene at their hotel in Darlington on Wednesday evening. Scotland’s first tournament game in 23 years comes against the Czech Republic at Hampden Park on Monday.

“It’s a bit of respite for the players now,” Clarke said. “I think it’s important for a couple of days to let them go home and relax. It’s just a break they need because it has been an intense period. With the Covid situation it’s better to let them go to their families rather than try to get the families to come to the team hotel or whatever.”

Pressed on how careful the Scotland players need to be, Clarke explained they would be mindful of their responsibilities. “It’s safe for them to go home and spend time with their families,” the manager said. “We don’t expect to see any of them going out and about.

“We had six out of the Netherlands game last week so they know how close Covid still is. Since the start when we brought football back we have preserved the security around the Covid bubble.

“What happened last week was just an early reminder that the Covid was there. It’s not going to go away this year, I don’t think it will go away next year either. We have to learn to live with it.”

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Scottish spirits are rightly high amid a run of two defeats in 16 matches. After the Czechs, England and Croatia lie in wait in Group D.

“We go into the tournament with a real positive attitude,” Clarke said. “We want to enjoy it and the best way to enjoy it is to go out there and play your best football. We will try to be on the front foot as much as we can, as much as the quality of the opponent allows us as well.”


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