What Steve Clarke told Scotland players immediately after loss vs England

Scotland boss Steve Clarke has been speaking about the 3-1 defeat at home to England

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Scotland boss Steve Clarke insists his team can still reflect on successful international break despite their 3-1 home loss to England at Hampden Park.

And he believes lessons learned in the 150th anniversary fixture will help as the Scots prepare for next month’s Euro 2024 qualifier away to Spain. Scotland remain odds-on to qualify for next summer’s Euros after winning their first five group fixtures, with last Friday’s 3-0 victory in Cyprus putting them within touching distance of another major finals appearance.

Clarke, asked about any danger that the feelgood factor might be dimmed by losing to England, said: “It hasn’t gone. In the competitive group, we’ve got five wins and 15 points. That’s what we have.

“I told the lads the camp has been a success. It would have been nice to have a positive result against England to make it even better. We didn’t’ want to lose to the auld enemy but, on the night, England were better and sometimes you have to take your medicine. I’m always excited to come away with this squad. They’ve been fantastic for their country. In a bit of adversity, they’ve always bounced back. Hopefully next month they do that.”

Looking ahead to next month’s trip to Spain and a friendly in France, Clarke added: “The most important thing in this camp was to get three points in Cyprus. We achieved that.

“We knew playing against England would be difficult. Spain away and France away will be difficult. But if you want to improve you have to play against these teams.

“We didn’t play as well as we can play and England played very well, especially first half, and it’s difficult to come back from 2-0 down. We had a good 30 minutes where we were forcing game, got back in the game, then switched off again. The game goes 3-1 and it’s over.

“I wasn’t getting carried away. I said the game would be something I could look at afterwards, with a view to Spain next month. I will go away and analyse the game and see what we can do better.

“We managed to play the ball around a little bit - but the game was probably already gone at 2-0 down. There are some things we have to be better at. I’m going to have to come up with a strategy that gets a result in Spain. The supporters should be disappointed that we didn’t get a positive result. But I’m sure they understand where we are. They’re still singing about going to Germany, so I’m sure they’re in a good place.

“You have to understand how good England are at pressing the ball. We couldn’t string enough passes together to open the game, certainly early when we were on the back foot. You have to learn to play against the speed and physicality of the opposition. And England certainly have the speed and physicality, as well as a lot of talented players.”

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