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Steve Clarke insists the Czech Republic’s second-string side will have quality

Scotland v Israel – UEFA Nations League – Group F – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Steve Clarke accepts there is an added expectation on Scotland when they take on a second-string Czech Republic side in their Nations League clash on Monday night.

Following Friday night’s 3-1 win against Slovakia in the same competition, the Czech FA declared their second group fixture in Olomouc had been called off amid a coronavirus threat.

This followed West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek and Roma striker Patrik Schick being told to self-isolate following contact with a backroom staff member who tested positive for the virus.

However, UEFA insisted that the match will go ahead and the Czechs confirmed they will have “new players and staff members” for the visit of the Scots, who drew 1-1 with Israel at Hampden Park in their group opener.

Asked about the idea that there is now more pressure on Scotland to return with all three points, Clarke said: “That’s fine. If people want to say that, that’s fine. We don’t run away from that.

“But we will prepare properly for the game and prepare to play the best team the Czech Republic can put out there and be ready to go.

“The important thing is we drew at home to Israel and we want to win the next game, so we will be ready for that one.”

Clarke was keen to stress that Scotland’s opponents, while not having been part of the original Czech Republic squad, will still have quality.

Scotland v Israel – UEFA Nations League – Group F – Hampden Park

New look Czech Republic will still have quality says Scotland manager Steve Clarke (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“It is the same build-up for us,” said the former West Brom manager, who revealed there “will be some changes” in personnel and perhaps also a change in formation from the back three deployed on Friday night.

“Obviously it will be a new-look Czech Republic team. We have a list of names that I believe is the official squad and myself and the analysts are working our way through so we know what position they play in and how they are.

“It is very easy to find footage because they all play in the top league in the Czech Republic so it’s all out there in a variety of different platforms on the internet. So it’s quite easy to get access to football from all over the world, which is great.

“What I will say is they will be a good level because they are playing in the top flight in the Czech Republic, which is a good level.

“If you were going as a club team from Britain to play a team from the Czech Republic you would expect a tough game, so we expect a tough game.”

Amid all the turmoil surrounding the fixture, the former Scotland defender is happy for the game to go ahead.

He said: “I would be happier if we were playing against the full Czech Republic team but we are in a very strange and disturbing time, if you look at the influence this pandemic has had on everybody.

“We have to adjust and adapt and will go and play the game.”