‘Emotional’ Craig Gordon and John Souttar left out of Scotland’s Euro 2024 squad

‘Emotional’ Craig Gordon and John Souttar left out of Scotland’s Euro 2024 squad

Steve Clarke admits he had to have emotional conversations when leaving Craig Gordon and John Souttar out of Scotland’s Euro 2024 squad.

Gordon became the country’s oldest international when the 41-year-old goalkeeper came on during the final European Championship warm-up against Finland with the home side leading 2-0 at Hampden Park.

However, in his 75th appearance for Scotland, the Hearts keeper let in two goals – the second a penalty he conceded himself when he was penalised for a challenge on Tomas Galvez despite appearing to touch the ball first.

Souttar was one of two players absent from Clarke’s matchday squad and he too will miss out as the Scotland boss culled his squad to 26 ahead of the opener against host country Germany next Friday.

“It was a really tough decision to leave Craig out,” said Clarke, who took “no risk” with Scott McTominay or Che Adams who did not appear against Finland.

“When you think of the injury he had come back from, I just thought over the period of time that he had been back and hadn’t become the number one at Hearts again – he only had seven games since December 2022, a long time.

“Obviously you had the dynamic of the squad, the three goalkeepers had been involved in every qualification.

“It was a really tough conversation with Craig, it was quite emotional to be honest – for both of us.

“But the mark of the man is he was here tonight. At the end of the conversation I said ‘I understand if you don’t like me and don’t want to do this, but I would like to give you the 75th cap tomorrow in front of a good crowd’.

“I could have done it against Gibraltar (on Monday), but I wanted to do it here at Hampden and the mark of the man, an hour later he was down having dinner with the lads. A great professional.

“At the end of the game we gave him a little reward signed by all the lads, Gordon 75 on the back of his jersey, and as I was giving him it I said ‘I know Craig will throw this back in my face and say 76, 77, 78, 79, 80 are coming’.”

Asked how Souttar took the news, Clarke said: “Also emotional. It is really difficult for you people to imagine how difficult it is to sit down with people who have always given their best for their country when I have selected them, to get so close.

“I think they understand how difficult it is for me and I really understand how difficult it is for them.”

The other absent player, Stuart Armstrong, is due to return to full training on Monday in Germany following a quad injury.

It looked like the Scots would head to Germany on a high after two Andy Robertson crosses led to an own goal by Finnish defender Arttu Hoskonen and a Lawrence Shankland header.

However, Benjamin Kallman reduced the deficit with a header in the 72nd minute before fellow substitute Oliver Antman levelled from the spot.

Debutant Tommy Conway came on and had a header saved in the final seconds, while New York Red Bulls’ Lewis Morgan won his third cap six years after his second.

Clarke said: “(Conway) should have scored but it shows that he does get in goalscoring positions. He just told me he is saving the goals for Germany so that’s fine.

“Lewis came over on a long flight from America yesterday and looked good when he came on, he looked lively. Good additions to the squad.”

Source: independent.co.uk