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Steve Clarke: Scotland manager ‘won’t chase down retired players’


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New Scotland manager Steve Clarke says he will sell his vision to Scotland players.

New Scotland manager Steve Clarke says he will not be “chasing down” players who have retired from international football.

Speaking at his unveiling, Clarke said he plans to “sell my vision” to coax back those who made themselves unavailable under Alex McLeish.

James McArthur, Allan McGregor and Scott Brown have all retired.

“The door is open to everyone. If players have retired, they have to un-retire themselves,” Clarke said.

“If they want to come back to the fold they have to get in touch with myself or the Scottish FA and say they want to make themselves available.

“I won’t be chasing down players who have retired. I only want players who are 100% committed to Scotland.”

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While Clarke insists he won’t go out his way to convince players to play for their country again, he does acknowledge he will speak to those who pulled out in recent months under his predecessor.

In the last international window, Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser, Cardiff’s Callum Paterson and Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher were among those unavailable for the 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan, the opening Euro 2020 qualifier.

McLeish also had nine players call off in November for the Nations League group game with Albania.

“The ones who have maybe pulled out of a squad a little too easily, it’s down to me to have that conversation with them, to sell my vision of what we’re going to do as a national team and how we’ll approach this tournament,” Clarke said, without referencing any individuals.

“A burning ambition of mine is to take Scotland to a major tournament. It should be the pinnacle of any players’ career to get to a World Cup finals with their country.”

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Clarke, who names his first squad next week ahead of the qualifier at home to Cyprus in June, says managing Scotland is the “pinnacle” of his career.

He hopes to bring his Kilmarnock assistant Alex Dyer on board as his No.2 on a part-time basis. And he recognised a need to get the Scotland fans back on-side after the hostile mood at the end of the McLeish reign.

“It’s not dissimilar to the situation when I took over at Kilmarnock, obviously on a completely different scale,” Clarke said.

“We want to make the Tartan Army proud of their team. The numbers have dwindled but it’s my job to make sure the players are focused. I’ll give everything I have to qualify through the group stages. We have slipped up and have to pick up points – the two games in June are crucial.”

Clarke the ‘outstanding candidate’ – SFA chief Maxwell

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell is thrilled to have landed Clarke and is convinced he can end the country’s 22-year wait to reach a major tournament.

Scotland sit second bottom in their qualifying group after two games but have secured a Euro 2020 play-off semi-final via the Nations League.

“The board and myself have conducted a diligent and robust process with a number of high-quality candidates,” Maxwell said. “Through each stage of this process, Steve jumped out as the outstanding candidate. He was very passionate about getting the job.

“The job he has done at Kilmarnock was incredible. We are absolutely delighted to have Steve’s services. We think we absolutely have the right guy to get us to the Euros.”

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