Slovakia v Scotland: World Cup route refocuses Steve Clarke ahead of Nations League draw

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Lieu: City Arena, Trnava Date: Sunday November 15th Time: 14h00 GMT
Blanket: Listen to commentary on BBC Radio Scotland and follow live text updates on the BBC Sport website and app; watch the highlights on Sportscene

The 2022 World Cup must “be the target” for Scotland in its Nations League campaign, says Steve Clarke.

The Scots sealed a place at the European Championship next summer after winning the play-offs in the previous Nations League tournament.

Clarke’s side lead their group ahead of Sunday’s game in Slovakia on Sunday, with a win there – or Israel on Wednesday – enough to win the section.

“The players understand the importance of the upcoming games,” said Clarke.

“The next route from the Nations League may be the Qatar 2022 World Cup and that must also be the goal.

“Everyone involved in the Scottish squad should realize that we are in Euro 2020 because of the Nations League journey. It’s a very important tournament for us. “

The celebrations continued late into the night after the decisive Euro play-offs victory on penalties against Serbia on Thursday.

And head coach Clarke is planning a number of changes for Sunday’s game after a grueling night in Belgrade, with forward Lyndon Dykes banned and captain Andy Robertson one of many injury doubts.

However, he stressed that the post-match festivities will not impact player availability.

“The celebrations ended overnight,” Clarke said. “They broke up naturally. It was a good party but it wasn’t crazy, nothing fancy.

“But it was a physically draining game, emotionally too – very, very draining for the players who were out there on the pitch.

“I’m going to talk to three or four players, maybe I have some doubts about coming back after such a difficult game and then I will come up with a team selection which will hopefully give us three more points. “

Slovakia had their own celebrations after securing a Euro berth with an overtime victory over Northern Ireland in Belfast, also on Thursday.

“I think the two teams will probably be in a similar frame of mind, and the two teams will be physically on a similar pattern,” Clarke added.

If Scotland avoid defeat at Trnava, they will equal a record that has lasted for almost 100 years.

The last time the national team were 10-game unbeaten was between March 1924 and February 1927, all against the other home countries.

“It’s an impressive statistic, but we haven’t played 10 games,” said Clarke.

“I understand why managers say that records are not important. It’s about what we achieved on Thursday night – tangible rewards like going to a major tournament. “

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