Scotland’s disrupted preparations for their crucial Nations League meeting with Ukraine on Tuesday have been further hampered by the emergence of a virus within Steve Clarke’s squad.
Scotland need a draw in Krakow to secure promotion from Group A, but such a result must be achieved the hard way. Andy Robertson’s injury means he has played no part in this international window. Kieran Tierney and Scott McKenna, starters in the victory over the Republic of Ireland on Saturday, are back at their clubs.
Scott McTominay’s warning against the Irish earned him a suspension. And it has now emerged that Greg Taylor, Lyndon Dykes, Che Adams, Stuart Armstrong and Scottish backroom staff have been hit by a bug.
“It’s been different,” the generally understated Clarke said. “I was tallying up injuries the other day and from my expanded pool of players, I’m missing something like 16. That’s a lot.
“As always in this kind of situation, we tend to find that it is the only position that is targeted. It is a very general position and it is in defense. We lost a lot of defenders and a few attackers as well. But in this situation, I always say it’s not about those who gave up, but about those who are there and can intervene. It’s a great opportunity for them to show everyone what they are.
Clarke revealed that Ryan Fraser had been taken ill while preparing for Saturday’s game. “Obviously we have to manage and monitor the situation,” the manager said. “If it goes the same way it did with Ryan, it’s less than 24 hours and then it’s fine. So fingers crossed no one else picks him up.
“Che Adams and Greg Taylor were feeling bad but they wanted to train. They went out this morning but Lyndon and Stuart didn’t feel like training was the best thing to do. But they will all travel.
Better news for Clarke comes in the form of Aaron Hickey, who returned to training despite a tight hamstring in the game against Ireland. The Brentford full-back is likely to play a key role against popular Ukraine winger Mykhaylo Mudryk. Everton and Brentford are among clubs keen to coax Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Progress under Clarke has put Scotland on course to secure a place in pot two in the next Euro 2024 draw. “I’ve been very consistent in my message that we want to keep improving. “Clarke said. “I was very honest over the summer when I said I thought we had stalled.
“It was nice to come to this camp. I reset the staff at the start of the week, as well as the players, and we had a good response to that. We want to finish the week in style by getting the right result. I want to keep moving forward. Even if it goes well and we get to pot two, I don’t want to stop there. This cannot be the limit of our aspirations. We must strive to be better all the time.