Scotland down five starters but still fully focused for playoff

Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie among those ruled out of Israel visit

Scotland skipper Andy Robertson suspects there will be no need for rousing speeches ahead of their Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel.

Scotland are playing in their first play-off encounter since losing a first-leg lead in abject fashion in a 6-0 defeat against the Netherlands in Amsterdam 17 years ago.

Robertson has become well used to major occasions though during his trophy-laden spell at Liverpool. And he immediately noticed the big-game atmosphere when he met up with his international team-mates.

So settling the players down before tonight’s Hampden showdown might be more necessary than an inspirational team talk.


“I’ve done it before and I will do it again but in terms of these games, they speak for themselves to be honest with you,” he said when asked if he had a rousing speech planned.

“When we met up on Sunday and Monday you got a sense that a big game was on the horizon, and that’s sometimes good enough.

“All the lads will be motivated, we know what’s at stake, we know it’s do or die with it being a knockout competition and we look forward to that challenge.

“Look, the lads are going to be motivated and determined like they are in every game but obviously there is an extra incentive here.

“Sometimes less is more and sometimes you need to do more. We will judge that, the manager will judge that, I will judge that.

“But I do believe whatever team the manager puts out will be motivated and I don’t think they will need any pep talk to get themselves up for this game.”

Scotland's preparations were rocked on Wednesday when it emerged that Stuart Armstrong had returned a positive Covid-19 test and both Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie had been identified as close contacts by health authorities and instructed to self-isolate.

Steve Clarke has also lost Scott McKenna, Liam Palmer and Oliver Burke to injury, leaving him arguably missing five players who would have started against Israel.

Robertson said: “It’s unfortunate that they are not here but we will try and do it for them as well as the country.

“Losing three players the day before a game is always tough to any team but we will deal with it as best we can and it’s up to us to show that we have enough quality in this squad.”