Steve Clarke has called on his Scotland players to aim to “become legends” at this summer’s European Championships.
The national team boss announced his 26-man squad for the rescheduled tournament, which gets underway next month, with most interest around the uncapped trio of Billy Gilmour, Nathan Patterson and David Turnbull.
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The Scots will soon start preparing for their first major tournament in 23 years and will host the Czech Republic and Croatia at Hampden Park, with a keenly anticipated fixture against England at Wembley in between.
Scotland have never qualified for the knockout stages of any major competition before and Clarke, speaking at a Hampden Park press conference, looked to break through that glass ceiling.
He said: “I think it has been a feel-good story and it is great to be involved in the tournament.
“We want to be competitive. When the boys won the match in Serbia on penalties (to qualify for Euro 2020) everyone got a great lift, it was a fantastic feeling. All the boys became heroes overnight.
“If we can get out the group stages in the summer they can become legends, so why not aim for that? It is always important to try to be as competitive as you can be.
“I have always said the group has grown in stature. The more caps, international experience and confidence they get from the games against the bigger and better teams – hopefully we can go there in the summer and cause a few problems to the other teams in the group.
“We are going there with the intention to get out the group of course, there is no point in going if we are just going to make up the numbers.
“We are going there to be as competitive as we can be and if that gets us enough points to get out the group and into the knockout stage, like I said before, the lads can become legends.”
‘Youngsters will liven up squad’
Chelsea midfielder Gilmour and Rangers right-back Patterson, both 19, were joined by Celtic’s 21-year-old PFA Scotland young player of the year Turnbull.
Clarke explained his thinking about drafting in “three very talented players” and insists they are on a “level footing” with the more experienced players in his group.
He said: “I think they all add something to the squad. Everyone goes to the training camp in Spain on a level footing. They’ve all got their chance to play their way into the team for the Euros.
“Nathan Patterson and David Turnbull have caught the eye in Scotland with their performances for Rangers and Celtic.
“Billy Gilmour is a player I’ve known for a long time and I know he’s very well regarded at Chelsea. It was nice to see him getting a few games recently and he looks like he’s over his injury.
“I’ve tried to stick as much as possible with the nucleus of the squad, which is important. The camaraderie of the squad was a big part of the qualification and I’ve added three young ones to liven it up a bit.”
Scotland squad for Euro 2020
Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian), David Marshall (Derby County), Jon McLaughlin (Rangers)
Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Jack Hendry (KV Oostende) *on loan from Celtic, Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forrest), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Nathan Patterson (Rangers), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Celtic), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), David Turnbull (Celtic)
Forwards: Ché Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (Queen’s Park Rangers), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian)
Scotland Euro 2020 group fixtures:
- Monday, June 14 – Group D: Scotland vs Czech Republic; Kick-off 2pm (Glasgow)
- Friday, June 18 – Group D: England vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (London)
- Tuesday, June 22 – Group D: Croatia vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (Glasgow)
Top two in each group plus four best third-placed teams go through
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