Steve Clarke has not sought any kind of guarantees from Elliot Anderson about the midfielder’s Scotland future.
The Whitley Bay-born Newcastle United player, who has a Scottish grandmother, has played at youth level for both Scotland and England.
The 20-year-old was called up by the Scotland boss for the first time for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Cyprus in Larnaca on Friday and the challenge match against England at Hampden Park next week after deciding against switching allegiance to England following positive discussions with Clarke.
However, Anderson officially withdrew from the squad on Wednesday night after picking up an injury in training.
Asked at the pre-match media conference in Cyprus if he had sought any assurances from Anderson, the Scotland boss said: “No. He just went home.”
The Scotland boss had already been asked if he had any fears surrounding international allegiances, and had said: “It is not something I can control. There’s not a lot I can do about it.
“Obviously (disappointing not to have the chance to work with Elliot), that’s why we brought him into the squad. Disappointing to lose Elliot and Liam (Kelly) on the same day but that’s part and parcel of international football, you deal with it.
“Obviously we had to replaced Liam because we couldn’t come with two goalkeepers so we brought in young Robby (McCrorie). who has been part of the squad before, he understands. We didn’t need to replace Elliot because we have enough midfielders.”
Scotland team news…
Scotland are boosted by the return of Che Adams and Scott McKenna, who both missed the victories over Norway and Georgia in June, while Nathan Patterson also returns having been forced to withdraw from the last squad due to injury.
After earning his first call-up to the squad, Elliot Anderson was forced to withdraw after picking up a knock during training. Goalkeeper Liam Kelly joined Anderson in withdrawing due to injury, with Rangers goalkeeper Robby McCrorie drafted in to replace the Motherwell stopper.
Clarke: ‘We aren’t the finished article’
Scotland top Group A with four wins from four and have gone eight competitive games without defeat.
An expected victory against Cyprus, who were beaten 3-0 at Hampden Park, could see Scotland qualify for a second successive Euros next Tuesday if results elsewhere go their way.
However, Clarke – whose side is expected to be backed by around 6,000 fans in a stadium which has a capacity of 8,058 – played down the exciting prospect of going to Germany next summer.
He said: “I am not really the excitable kind, am I? Just concentrating on the game coming up. The players are in a good place, they are a good place in the group.
“At halfway we have maximum points, you can’t do much better than that. Some of the moments within the game we can improve on.
“We don’t think for a minute that we are the finished article, we will look to improve and the players have said that we will. We want to keep improving and improving but always respect the opponent.
“It will be difficult. They are a proud team, proud to represent their country, Cyprus. They are always difficult opponents for us. Two late goals probably put a little gloss on the scoreline (at Hampden) so we expect a tough game.”
Much is being made of the high temperatures in Cyprus but Clarke was relaxed about the 9.45pm local time kick-off.
He said: “It was pretty hot in Norway when we went there so we have some experience and it was nice and sunny in Glasgow when we left so you just have to deal with the conditions as they are and make sure we get the result that we want.”
Cyprus vs Scotland stats
- Cyprus have lost all eight of their internationals against Scotland, scoring six times and conceding 27 across these defeats, shipping at least two goals in every game.
- Scotland have won seven major tournament qualifying matches against Cyprus (four World Cup, three Euros), only winning more against the Faroe Islands and San Marino (8).
- Cyprus have lost their last six European Championship qualifiers since a 2-1 win against Kazakhstan in 2019. It’s their longest losing run in Euro qualifiers since losing 12 in a row between 1987 and 1994.
Ketsbaia: Scotland have already qualified
Cyprus boss Temuri Ketsbaia believes Scotland have effectively qualified for Euro 2024 as he prepares for their meeting in Larnaca on Friday.
Ketsbaia’s side have yet to pick up a point in three games and lost 3-0 at Hampden Park in March.
The former Newcastle, Wolves and Dundee forward said: “I believe they have already qualified.
“I don’t know if they will win the group but they will be first or second. I have seen the four games and they have been better than all their opponents. They have 12 points from four games, they are a good team in a very difficult
“I’m not surprised at this. When you see the quality of their players – many of them from the Premier League – and they have a very good coach who has so much experience and he has done a great job.
“I am not surprised they are top of the section – what they have done is not a surprise.
“It’s not as hot as it was a few weeks ago, but we still hope that the conditions affect the Scots more than they do us.
“So we have a difficult match here, because the Scots deserve to be first so far. We’ve prepared as well as can and want to make a good game in a full stadium.
“We have no points so far, but we hope to start now. We’ve maybe been more defensive in our early games because of the opposition. Here at home we played more open against Georgia, when we deserved more from the game. Maybe it will be our night this time.”
State of play – Group A
Scotland moved a step closer to booking their spot at Euro 2024 as they maintained their perfect record in qualifying with a 2-0 win over Georgia in June.
They now visit bottom-of-the-table Cyprus looking to cement their position at the top of Group A.