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Steve Clarke: 'There was no element of risk with Billy Gilmour'

Steve Clarke: 'There was no element of risk with Billy Gilmour'
© Reuters
The Chelsea midfielder played a starring role as his side ground out a 0-0 draw at Wembley.

Steve Clarke insisted there was no risk starting Billy Gilmour for the first time after the Chelsea midfielder starred in Scotland’s goalless draw against England which put Euro 2020 hopes back on track.

The 20-year-old had made two substitute appearances but had not featured in the opening Group D defeat by Czech Republic at Hampden Park which piled pressure on the Scots for the trip to Wembley.

Gilmour looked as if he was made for the big stage as Scotland came away with a deserved point which means they have a chance of qualifying out of the group against Croatia at Hampden Park next Tuesday.

Clarke said: “I don’t think there is any element of risk when you have a player of Billy Gilmour’s talent, when you put him on the pitch you expect him to do what he did which was to get a hold of the ball for us, make us play through the midfield. So I didn’t feel it was a risk.

“Obviously the balance or the rest of the team has got to be right to support Billy and I think we got that right tonight.

“I think you have to look at the team performance as well, a lot of players supported him getting through 75 minutes of his first start

“I thought Stephen O’Donnell was exceptional and Billy was just behind him. It was nice for Billy to get that start, a big platform, a big stage, a big player. I have said for a long time that he will be part of the future of Scottish football.

“We know what we have got in camp, we try to manage him properly, keep a lid on things and performances like that will do him no harm whatsoever.”

England v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group D – Wembley Stadium
Steve Clarke hugs Che Adams during the draw with England (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Scots have never qualified out of a group at a major finals but with one point from two games, they could make history when they take on Croatia, who also have a point, while England and the Czechs have four points ahead of their meeting.

Clarke believes his side came in for some unfair criticism after the 2-0 defeat by the Czechs.

He said: “I am pleased for everybody, all my players and all my staff. It was a little bit unfair some of the stuff that came our way after Monday’s result.

“The objective tonight was to get something from the game so we could go to the last game with a genuine chance of qualifying and that is what we have done.

England v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group D – Wembley Stadium
The recalled Callum McGregor drew praise from his manager (Nick Potts/PA)

“We have been improving for a long time so it was nice to see the play on the pitch, we defended well, the most pleasing aspect was we played well.”

Clarke made four changes with fit-again Kieran Tierney coming back into defence, Scott McTominay dropping back to midfield with playmaker Callum McGregor and striker Che Adams reinstated.

He explained: “Getting Kieran into the back three with Scott gives us the platform to build from the back to play football and Billy and Callum (McGregor) in midfield are both good footballers.

“We knew we couldn’t defend here for 95 minutes or whatever, we knew when we had the ball we had to take care of it and try to create our own chances and that is what we managed to do.”

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

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