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Steve Clarke pleased with draw against the Netherlands

Steve Clarke pleased with draw against the Netherlands
© Reuters
The Scots were without six players as they followed Covid guidelines.

Steve Clarke claimed the strength of Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad was demonstrated in the encouraging 2-2 draw against Holland in Portugal.

The national team boss opted to leave six players – David Marshall, Stephen O’Donnell, Nathan Patterson, Grant Hanley, John McGinn and Che Adams – behind in Spain, where they had been in a training camp, following John Fleck’s positive Covid-19 test.

However, the Scots were far from cowed and defender Jack Hendry drove in his first international goal after 11 minutes of the behind-closed-doors friendly in the Estadio Algarve.

Memphis Depay levelled five minutes later with a drive from inside the box, Kevin Nisbet opened his Scotland account shortly after coming on in the second half, only for Depay to level again with a minute remaining with a wonderful free-kick from a dubious award.

Celtic midfielder David Turnbull made his debut and Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour came on as a late substitute for his first appearance, and an impressed Clarke said: “We have a good squad and I said that right from the minute I picked the squad, I was happy with it.

“Good balance, good options, we do a lot of work on the training ground that is very similar, one right centre-back will know what the next one’s going to do.

“Everyone knows their job and role within the team. I think that showed tonight.

Portugal Netherlands Scotland Soccer
Scotland were without six players due to Covid guidelines (Miguel Morenatti/AP)

“I don’t think it would have been five or six that would have started but there would have been two or three, but the boys who came in and replaced them know the roles and jobs and that’s what we have to do before we get to the actual tournament.

“Obviously we would have liked to have won the game, we are feeling a little bit that the referee took it away from us with a really soft free-kick, but we can overlook that a little bit.

“We wanted to put in a good performance and I think we managed to do that against a good Dutch team. So it was a good night for us.”

Clarke admits he now has more questions to answer.

He said: “What has happened in the last couple of days, you learn to go one day at a time.

Portugal Netherlands Scotland Soccer
Kevin Nisbet scores Scotland’s second goal (Miguel Morenatti/AP)

“That was a good performance and that gives me more decisions to make as the head coach and that’s what we want.

“I want difficult decisions, I want sleepless nights and ultimately I want to make sure I pick the right team for the starting game in the tournament.

“The performance didn’t really surprise me. I feel we are getting better and the more we play against the top nations and show we can be competitive, hopefully the more we can grow as a team.”

Ahead of the second friendly in Luxembourg, Clarke gave a squad update.

He said: “They will all train tomorrow. The only one who won’t train is John Fleck.”

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