Scotland boss Steve Clarke takes a swipe at Ryan Fraser as he says he has ‘a squad of players who want to be here’ after the Newcastle winger withdrew from the side only to train with his club 48 hours later
- Ryan Fraser pulled out of the Scotland side ahead of their clash with Moldova
- The Newcastle winger cited a calf injury but then trained with Newcastle
- Steve Clarke was understood to be far from impressed at the situation
- He says he has a ‘squad of players’ who want to be with the camp
Steve Clarke says the commitment of his Scotland players has put them on the brink of a World Cup play-off, in what was seen as a swipe at the absent Ryan Fraser.
The Newcastle winger withdrew from the squad on Sunday ahead of Friday evening’s game here in Moldova, where a win will secure second-place in the group.
Fraser cited a calf injury when he pulled out, only to then train with his club side 48 hours later on what was Eddie Howe’s first day in charge.
Ryan Fraser pulled out of the Scotland squad with an injury but was in training 48 hours later
It is understood Clarke is far from impressed and, when asked about the situation, he said: ‘The best way to answer that one is to say I have a squad of players who want to be here. They’re all here so let’s talk about those boys.
‘We have built a really strong squad. I had to persuade Lyndon Dykes it was a bad idea to fly to Moldova! He’s not with us just now, he’s suspended.
‘But it shows you the level of commitment I have got from the boys in the squad. That’s what we’re building and I’d rather talk about those people.
‘That commitment is massive for us. It’s why, when you need to score a late goal, that spirit and togetherness is there. That’s when it shines through.
‘You turn draws into wins because of the team spirit and the feeling among this group of players. That’s vitally important to us and what we’re trying to do.’
Steve Clarke was understood to be far from impressed with the situation surrounding Fraser
A win for Scotland on Friday night would put them on the brink of a World Cup play-off spot
Clarke has been dealt a blow with the loss of Manchester United’s Scott McTominay to illness. He scored the stoppage-time winner against Israel last month to put the Scots in control of their own destiny.
Win on Friday night and they will be two matches from next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Clarke added: ‘From within we know we are improving. I have spoken consistently over the last 12 months about seeing improvement in this group of players.
‘If we can do something tangible – and finishing second in the group would be a tangible, measurable achievement – then other people can decide whether it is success.
‘For us it would be reasonable success, or a reasonable step forward. But, if we do manage to secure second place, then obviously we want to go to the play-offs and win two more matches and get to the World Cup, because ultimately that’s what we want.’