Steve Clarke's pre-England press conference quotes
(Photo by UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Steve Clarke will boast a fully fit squad going into Scotland's crunch tie with England at Wembley this Friday evening. 

The Scotland manager confirmed that previous notable absentee Kieran Tierney "Is available for the whole game" after missing their UEFA Euro 2020 opener against the Czech Republic through what was described as a "little niggle".

The Tartan Army will have to come away from with nothing less than a draw should they hope to make it to the second round of the Euros for the first time in their history. 

While Gareth Southgate's England side got off to winning ways against Croatia in a 1-0 win, the Scots have it all to do after succumbing to a 2-0 defeat against the Czechs at Hampden Park

Here are Clarke's thoughts ahead of the blockbuster matchup, with the full press conference available from the Scottish National Team YouTube channel here.

  • On Kieran Tierney’s availability...

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"Everybody is fit and available. It is good news for Kieran, good news for us and good news for the Scottish supporters, hopefully we can back all that up with a good result. He has trained fully the last two days. He is available for the whole game."

It's not just those south of the border struggling to shoe-horn in world-class fullbacks into their side. 

Steve Clarke confirmed the news that all Scotland fans wanted to hear on Thursday evening as Kieran Tierney was confirmed as fully fit before taking on England.

The three-time PFA Scottish Young Player of the Year winner's absence against the Czech Republic continued a trend this season, having missed nine games through injury for Arsenal this year. 

But Clarke has struck up an ideal partnership between the two, with Tierney sitting on the left of a back three while the marauding captain Andy Robertson has license to create as a wing back. 

  • Addressing shortcomings in regards to composure in front of goal…

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“You do a bit of work on the training pitch and hope that when the chances come that they are clean chances. It's normally easier to score a clean chance than half a chance. Czech Republic, to their credit, blocked about ten of the 19 shots we had, so that’s good defence. We try to get clean chances in the game and hopefully we get enough to stick one away and hopefully one is enough to get a chance out of the game.”

The lack of clinical edge from the Ryan Christie/Lyndon Dykes strike force was apparent against the Czech Republic, particularly in relation to the latter who missed several gilt-edged chances. 

Calls for a change of the guard may be perceived as slightly premature, but the substitute appearance from allegiance-shifting Che Adams would have swayed public opinion for a more left-field approach from Clarke.

Adams, who is eligible for Scotland through his maternal grandmother, has only made five appearances under Clarke but impressed in his second half performance with his intense work rate and ability to link play from midfield areas.

The Southampton striker has notched 9 goals and 5 assists this season for his club, with 55.6% of shots on target this season being only bettered by Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the Premier League with players taking over 50 shots, according to FBref.com.

Adams may be the answer to Scotland's call for a reinvigorated Euros, doing it on perhaps the biggest stage of them all. 

  • On his player’s comprehension of the magnitude of the occasion and fan expectation…

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“It's a game with a lot of historical significance and a game all the players want to play in. What we have to do is make sure that we are prepared properly for it. In terms of the team talk, we have to go through the tactical side of the game and the organisational side of the game. The nuts and bolts of getting the players up for the game is going to be really easy because we know it's a big game and we know we need to get something from the game, and that’s what we aim to do.”

In the 144th meeting of the 'Auld Enemies', only one previous encounter took place on the on the competitive continental stage- Euro 96. 

Clarke and co. will be wary of a repetition of the Paul Gascoigne magic 25 years ago when England emerged victorious with a 2-0 win at Wembley. 

Their most recent encounter back in 2018 served up just as many iconic moments, with a late Leigh Griffiths set-piece brace being cancelled out by an even later Harry Kane equaliser. 

Not including the now fit Kieran Tierney, just six of those included in the squad of their previous outing were in the 26 man team at Hampden on Monday, but as Clarke alluded to, the boys in blue will need no motivation in one of the biggest games of their careers. 

  • On the emotion of leading Scotland out at Wembley...

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"I take the emotions of the head coach of Scotland. Proud to the head coach of Scotland, proud to this group of players and hopefully they can make us all smile at the end of the game. I’ve spent a long part of my life in England, never mind my football playing and coaching career, so I have good memories down here and lots of good friends, but on the night I want Scotland to win - desperately."

Despite his longstanding work commitments in England, Steve Clarke made his determination to pick up maximum points against Gareth Southgate's men. 

Clarke, who represented Scotland as a player six times, was rewarded with the national job back in May 2019 after guiding underdogs Kilmarnock to their highest placed finish in the Scottish Premiership in 53 years, securing European football at Rugby Park for the first time since 2001.

It was in England however where Clarke made his name, working under the likes of Ruud Gullit and Jose Mourinho as a coach while at Newcastle and Chelsea respectively before moving into management himself. 

The 57-year-old had spells with West Brom and Reading before his most successful period in East Ayrshire with Killie

As Scotland manager, Clarke now boasts the second best points per game (1.5 PPG) amongst previous Scotland managers who have managed at least 20 games so far this century. 

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"Gareth has done a great job with the England team. He took them to the last four in the last World Cup and it’s not an easy thing to do. He’s got a terrific squad of players and he’s brought a lot of young, exciting talent through into the squad. I know Gareth well from the circuit, when you’re going around watching matches and we bumped into each other a lot before Covid restrictions hit. I’ve got a lot of respect for Gareth, he’s a really good person and it’s always nice to bump into him and speak to him..."

Clarke's high praise of Gareth Southgate is warranted, who is the second highest ranked England manager in terms of win percentage in the 21st century (63%). 

Southgate, who partnered Tony Adams at the heart of the English defence back on that fateful day for Scotland in 1996, has taken his country on a whimsical journey during his time in the dugout. 

The pinnacle thus far was reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018, and he will hope the love affair continues as a new crop of generational talent in the likes of Phil Foden and, when fit, Trent Alexander-Arnold  emerge. 

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