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Scotland boss Steve Clarke says he ‘wants revenge for defeat in Dublin’

Scotland boss Steve Clarke© REUTERS


Scotland manager Steve Clarke has praised the FAI for standing by Stephen Kenny but declared that he plans to halt their momentum in Glasgow tonight.

Kenny was under pressure going into the June meeting between the sides and an unexpected comfortable win for the hosts in Dublin put Clarke on the rack.

His side bounced back in impressive fashion to defeat Ukraine earlier in the week and they are top of the Nations League group ahead of this evening’s return match with Ireland at Hampden Park.

Clarke feels that the Irish display in Dublin showed that he was genuine when speaking in positive terms about Kenny’s work beforehand, but the former Chelsea assistant boss is confident that an improved work-rate can turn things around and can gain revenge for what happened in the Aviva.

“I don’t really know him (Kenny),” Clarke explained at yesterday’s pre-match press conference.

“Not long after he got the job I met him at a game at Derby and we had a five-minute chat. He seems a very nice man.

“We had a chat when we were in Dublin – I know he was under pressure at the time, but I see him as a very principled man, he knows in his own mind what he wants and he seems a decent fella.

“If you’re with Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales you’re going to have bumps in the road in international football.

“England is maybe a little smoother because of the embarrassment of riches they’ve got in terms of playing staff. For other countries there are going to be bumps in the road but the Irish deserve credit for sticking with Stephen.

“They decided to go a certain way and gave him the time to implement his style with the team and he’s done that. They beat us and beat us well and backed that up by going to Poland and getting a point against Ukraine. After a disappointing start away to Armenia it gives them a chance to having a good finish to the group but obviously we want to stop that.

“I said before we played them they are a good team now we know for sure they are a good team. We give them full respect. They like to get the ball wide, they play with good width in the pitch and they’ve got good delivery into the box. They are dangerous at set plays, they have some big ones to look out for. Lots of different qualities. They obviously have that little bit of Irish spirit, the fight, the running. We know we have to match that first and foremost and then we have to hope that our qualities are better than their qualities on the night.”

Ireland defender John Egan is hoping that game will be remembered as a turning point as it produced more than a moral victory.

“It was definitely a big performance and a big result to go with it,” he said referencing the 3-0 triumph. “Before that we had some really good performances and just got edged out like Portugal away. To put in that performance on the back of two defeats showed the character in the group. We went into that game under a lot of pressure and we delivered.

“As a team, we want to keep moving forward, keep getting better, and we’re looking to take another step forward here.”

Kenny says his squad are fully fit but was tight-lipped on team selection, asserting he would have no qualms about playing Shane Duffy despite his lack of game-time. Egan said that Duffy and captain Séamus Coleman were their usual selves in training and around the camp even though they arrive with no league starts under their belt.

“Scotland are a formidable team,” said Kenny, “All of their players are more or less playing in the Premier League or the Champions League bar one or two so we highly respect them.”

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