Steve Clarke to name 28 players in provisional Scotland squad... leaving two players to sweat over Euros fate

Assistant boss Carver dampens prospect of surprise inclusions in squad Celtic winger James Forrest set to get nod after impressive end to season Bristol City defender Ross McCrorie may be answer to right wing-back dilemma Liverpool winger Doak and Aberdeen midfielder Barron in frame for selection 

THE wait is almost over now. The opening game of Euro 2024 takes place in Munich in a little over three weeks’ time and, this lunchtime, Steve Clarke will lay a sheet of paper on the table in the Hampden auditorium and confirm the names of 28 players in with a chance of lining up against the host nation in the Allianz Arena on June 14.

Not all of them will make the cut. Scotland will play friendlies against Gibraltar and Finland before two names are scored from the final list.

A brutal business, the process of making the final 26 will come down to Darwin’s evolutionary theory. It’s survival of the fittest.

‘The deadline to name the final squad is June 7, so we had a think about it and we think it is worthwhile bringing in 28 because we have got a number of players we need to have a look at,’ said assistant manager John Carver.

‘We have got all the data on everybody, how many minutes they have been playing, where they are in their fitness. So, I think it is worth bringing them into camp.

‘Then, we can actually see them day to day and we have obviously got the two games as well. So we can look at them real closely before Steve eventually finally names the 26.’

Steve Clarke and John Carver will today name their squad for Scotland's Euro 2024 campaign

Steve Clarke and John Carver will today name their squad for Scotland's Euro 2024 campaign

Celtic title winner James Forrest looks to have timed his run to perfection for a seat on plane

Celtic title winner James Forrest looks to have timed his run to perfection for a seat on plane

Bristol City's Ross McCrorie could be the man to solve Clarke's right wing-back dilemma

Bristol City's Ross McCrorie could be the man to solve Clarke's right wing-back dilemma

During the qualifying process for Germany, Clarke’s squad, like his starting XI, picked itself. The loss of midfielder Lewis Ferguson and first-choice right-backs Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson changed the narrative.

Ross McCrorie was fit enough to become a key player at Bristol City in the second half of the season. Anthony Ralston’s Celtic run-out against St Mirren last weekend was also timely while Motherwell’s Stephen O’Donnell and Max Johnston of Sturm Graz offer more options for what has suddenly become a problem position.

Talk of any late wild cards for the Newcastle players once mooted for Scotland duty can be discarded. While Liverpool’s Ben Doak and Connor Barron of Aberdeen are likely to be drafted in to build them up for the future, any surprises will be modest rather than seismic.

In central defence, Norwich City’s Grant Hanley managed only 10 appearances all season and will be given a chance to prove his fitness. Goalkeeper is another area of uncertainty with four candidates — Angus Gunn, Craig Gordon, Zander Clark and Liam Kelly — for three places. While the process of elimination will be brutal, one thing it won’t be is unfair.

‘Grant Hanley is an example,’ said Carver. ‘He has been fit for a number of weeks now, but he hasn’t had a great deal of playing time.

‘So, it is an ideal opportunity for us to sit with them and have a good chat with them, but also see them on the training ground every single day.

Clarke will use the two pre-tournament friendlies to run the rule over some of his fringe men

Clarke will use the two pre-tournament friendlies to run the rule over some of his fringe men

Brentford defender Aaron Hickey will be missing from the squad after losing his fitness battle

Brentford defender Aaron Hickey will be missing from the squad after losing his fitness battle

Nathan Patterson would have started in Hickey's absence but he too has been ruled out

Nathan Patterson would have started in Hickey's absence but he too has been ruled out

‘Plus, we have got two games before we have to name that final squad. I think it is the fairest way to do it.

‘Obviously, when we get to the end of it, there are going to be a couple of guys who are disappointed, but at least Steve then can speak face to face with the guys who are not going to be in.

‘We will be gutted for them, but it will give them the opportunity to speak face to face with Steve.’

Celtic’s James Forrest came in from the cold to influence the destination of the Premiership title. Players with 22 winners’ medals are thin on the ground and the veteran wide man would offer Clarke an option from the bench. Given the issues on the right side of the pitch, it feels like a logical move.

‘There are one or two guys who have had a good end to the season, so they might be given an opportunity where they thought they were never going to get that opportunity,’ Carver acknowledged.

‘We have a number of question marks. I think it is the fairest way to get everybody up there, get the group together and then we can see it face to face, we can see it together as a group of staff along with the medical team, along with the sports scientists.’

Callum McGregor's return to fitness has been warmly welcomed by assistant boss Carver

Callum McGregor's return to fitness has been warmly welcomed by assistant boss Carver

Carver can't wait to get to Scotland's camp in the Alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Carver can't wait to get to Scotland's camp in the Alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Carver has never been a silent yes man as a No2. A lively, outgoing extrovert, the Geordie has spent recent months crossing the globe to watch players in person, reporting back with his findings.

A recent trip to America raises the tantalising prospect of a Lewis Morgan, Ryan Gauld or Johnny Russell coming in from the cold, but no guarantees that any of them will claim a seat on the plane.

A creature of habit, Clarke has spent so long on the phone to Carver, his assistant jokes of his golf game going to seed.

While his opinion is valued, Clarke earns the big bucks for a reason. The buck stops with him.

Norwich defender Grant Hanley will be a key man for Scotland if he can first prove his fitness

Norwich defender Grant Hanley will be a key man for Scotland if he can first prove his fitness

Carver has been putting in the miles across the country to watch squad hopefuls in action

Carver has been putting in the miles across the country to watch squad hopefuls in action

For a time, the absence of Callum McGregor with Achilles tendonitis seemed to be another headache to add to the loss of Ferguson, Hickey and Patterson.

A condition requiring careful management, the Celtic captain’s return to form and fitness is a welcome piece of good news.

‘He is a leader. We know what he is like,’ said Carver. ‘As it happens, I saw him at the weekend and he looked back to his best. We have to thank Celtic for the way they have handled him.

‘They have brought him in, gave him game time but not thrown him in at the deep end.

‘They have been pretty cautious with him. He looked back to his best at the weekend and that has got to be a bonus.’

The final squad of 26 players will be based in the small Alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, near the Germany-Austria border.

Liverpool winger Ben Doak has missed most of the season with injury but is an exciting talent

Liverpool winger Ben Doak has missed most of the season with injury but is an exciting talent

Aberdeen midfielder Connor Barron could be chosen in the absence of injured Lewis Ferguson

Aberdeen midfielder Connor Barron could be chosen in the absence of injured Lewis Ferguson

Carver was speaking as he helped digital bank Chase launched a new football programme

Carver was speaking as he helped digital bank Chase launched a new football programme

Boasting ‘first-class facilities and a breathtaking, tranquil setting’, players will unwind after games in the hotel’s indoor swimming pool, heated outdoor infinity pool, and hot tub.

With a penthouse suite, private spa, panoramic sauna and roof terrace with mountain air, the nearby Mount Wank can be scaled via the Wankbahn cable car. By his own admission, Carver is ‘excited’.

‘I will be coming up for the Scottish Cup final this weekend and I will just stay up there,’ he said. ‘Once I come up on Saturday, that’s me in camp. So it is an exciting time.

‘I am sure the players cannot wait for the squad to be announced. I mean, once it is announced, how proud will they be?

‘Can they create history? This is an opportunity for them all.’

John Carver was speaking as digital bank Chase launched a new football programme with the SFA and the other three Home Nations to provide fully funded access to 2,900 introductory coaching qualifications and 85 professional coaching bursaries to individuals from low-income backgrounds.

OTHER NEWS

18 minutes ago

UAE: Brookfield-led consortium to invest in GEMS Education

21 minutes ago

GOP senator blocks Democratic bill to ban bump stocks

21 minutes ago

2024 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV Gets More EPA Range: Up To 307 Miles

21 minutes ago

Here is what to know about Chipotle’s 50-for-1 stock split

21 minutes ago

Darius Rucker praises Beyoncé bringing 'so many eyes' to country music with “Cowboy Carter”

23 minutes ago

Post-Poll Violence: No Reservation If Central Forces' Stay In Bengal Extended, Home Ministry To HC

23 minutes ago

Liverpool transfer news: First summer signing close as Florian Wirtz statement made

23 minutes ago

Jeff Brazier explains why he is saying no to Strictly Come Dancing after son Bobby's stint

23 minutes ago

Knicks Contract Offer Chilled Free Agent's Thrills

23 minutes ago

12 Home Affairs officials fired after passport fraud

23 minutes ago

Inflation-wary Reserve Bank spells long wait for cuts

23 minutes ago

Number of dead Tunisian pilgrims rises to 35 as of Tuesday (MFA)

23 minutes ago

Alabama teen scores sneak preview of Tiana's Bayou Adventure after viral prom dress fame

23 minutes ago

GNU Ministers: Who will be the new electricity boss in parliament?

23 minutes ago

Excessive alcohol blamed for waterfront deaths

23 minutes ago

‘Inadvertent geoengineering’: Researchers say low-sulfur shipping rules made climate change worse

23 minutes ago

Happy 25th anniversary Prince Edward and Sophie! Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh married in a modest (by royal standards) ceremony at Windsor in 1999 - but now they are at the heart of the 'slimmed down' monarchy

23 minutes ago

Samantha Hutchinson's husband and family receives $1.3 million settlement after she was killed on her wedding night in crash with drunk driver Jamie Lee Komoroski

26 minutes ago

Scotland enter new phase of Euro 2024 as required change becomes clear

29 minutes ago

UK inflation back to target for first time since 2021

29 minutes ago

Retirees: 3 TSX Stocks That Have Raised Dividends Annually for More Than 20 Years

29 minutes ago

Auto giant Stellantis recalls 1.2 million cars in the US and Canada

29 minutes ago

'Frustrated' DeChambeau snubbed from Olympics

29 minutes ago

These 5 Stocks Have Unstoppable Dividend Growth

29 minutes ago

Better Buy: TD Bank Stock vs. BMO

29 minutes ago

End of the road for Brownlees – family will not run at Olympics for first time in 20 years

29 minutes ago

Love Island fans insist 'wrong' Islander left as Samantha brutally dumped from villa

29 minutes ago

Kevin Costner shares that he never quit on passion project Horizon: An American Saga because he doesn't 'really fall out of love'

29 minutes ago

Inside Luxe Listings Sydney star Gavin Rubinstein's prestige Sydney pad as he sells property for $8million

29 minutes ago

Julia Roberts shares RARE throwback baby photo of her son Henry to celebrate his 17th birthday

29 minutes ago

I found out my boyfriend of six years secretly dresses like a baby - is this a red flag?

29 minutes ago

Maria Thattil gushes over 'love of her life' Moana Hope and says their bond is unlike anything she's experienced as she gives a rare insight into their romance

32 minutes ago

Slate Cafe: Perth dog-friendly cafe in Bennett Springs announces closure

36 minutes ago

‘Worth every penny’ – Kobbie Mainoo raves about Arsenal star

36 minutes ago

Germany looking to book spot in Euro 2024 knockout stage with win vs. Hungary

36 minutes ago

England: Gareth Southgate defends Harry Kane and Phil Foden after Serbia struggles at Euro 2024

36 minutes ago

States slap down Dutton's 'fantasy' nuclear power plan

36 minutes ago

2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Pittsburgh Steelers player outlooks, schedule, depth chart and more to know

36 minutes ago

Jeff Van Gundy Hired by Clippers as Lead Assistant

36 minutes ago

Yankees' Aaron Judge Provides Major Update on Injury