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Steve Clarke: Mission for Scotland against Denmark is win the game and avoid any bookings

Steve Clarke gets a message across in pre-match training.
Steve Clarke gets a message across in pre-match training.

There are two big issues confronting Scotland in their final match of the Group F World Cup qualifiers – and Steve Clarke’s men are masters of their own destiny for both.

A draw with Denmark will almost certainly secure a play-off seeding and home semi-final tie in March, with a win putting it beyond all doubt.

And the other wish for Clarke is that his team get the result they are aiming for without any of his seven players one booking away from a suspension seeing yellow.

Andy Robertson John McGinn, Ché Adams, Billy Gilmour, Jack Hendry, Kevin Nisbet and Stephen O’Donnell are the men walking a tightrope.

It would be eight if Scott McTominay had been available.

And the manager believes they have got the football savvy to do it without falling off.

“It’s almost impossible to manage because you have so many,” said Clarke.

“You get to the point where it’s a case of who are you protecting and how are you going to do it?

“Over the course of a campaign you are going to pitch some up.

“Someone told me that Sweden have something like 16. So we’re not the worst.

“I’ve got a list of most of the countries and they are all up there … seven, eight, nine bookings. It’s just the way it is.

“If you get a reasonably sensible referee, everybody understands it.

“It’s a Uefa qualifying process within a Fifa competition so Fifa set the rules.

“We’ll just deal with it. The boys know.

“They’ve all played top level football. You know you run a risk if you go into a Champions League game (on a booking) and if you get a card you miss the next game.

“You have to learn how to play a game with a yellow card hanging over your head.”

Clean slate

Wiping the slate clean for the 16 nations in the play-offs would be a sensible decision but an unlikely one.

“If all the teams that are involved in the playoffs could have a little head to head and decide,” said Clarke. “But they would have to do it very quickly.

“Decisions at this level are very rarely made quickly. It would have to be done before the draw. That doesn’t leave them much time.

“Trying to get everybody to sit down and come to some kind of a resolution doesn’t often happen in such a short space of time.

“If it happened it would be good for all the countries involved.”

More at stake for Scots

Scotland have won five matches in succession but they are coming up against a country yet to drop a point in the qualifying campaign.

Maintaining a 100% record will motivate the Danes but there is more riding on the contest for the hosts.

“I think a point will be enough but we don’t know,” said Clarke

“So it’s better just to win.

“It’s what I said to the boys the other night when we went to Moldova.

“There was a scenario where, even if we’d lost in Moldova, we could still qualify with the points total we had, whether it was a defeat or a draw.

“But I said to the lads: ‘It’s much easier if we win because then we know exactly what’s happening’.

“It will be the same on Monday night.

“If we can beat Denmark, we know for sure we get the seeding. If we get the point, I’m pretty certain that will be enough to be seeded.

“So why not finish the campaign in a good way? That’s our aim.”

3 Moldova v Scotland talking points: Stuart Armstrong takes his chance, Craig Gordon is in a class of his own and play-off plaudits deserved

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