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CELTIC TRIO ALERT AS CLARKE URGES FINAL PUSH BY FRINGE STARS

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STEVE CLARKE admits he has “a lot to think about” after being told he can add three players after UEFA had given the go-ahead for Euro 2020 squad expansions.

The Scotland international boss also said he had “more or less” decided on a 23-man pool which the European soccer bosses have boosted to 26.

UEFA explain the additions are planned to ease the load on players following a condensed season caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision could open the way for Celtic trio James Forrest, David Turnbull and Leigh Griffiths, with all three Hoops stars have admirers who believe they could have a role to play for their country.

Clarke, speaking on Sky Sports News, said: “I only found out about that yesterday. I’d sort of more or less nailed down the 23 in my head, so it’s given me a lot more to think about.

ON WAY BACK…James Forrest, who has struggled with injury, celebrates his recent goal against Livingston with Odsonne Edouard.

“Obviously, it will make the job when you’re there more difficult because you’re leaving players out who won’t be involved in the games, but it’s a chance for some players who might have missed out to be in the squad and to experience the whole atmosphere of a major tournament, which will be good.”

UEFA have set a June 1 deadline for submitting squads, but the Scots chief says he will name a provisional squad before that date for the team’s pre-tournament camp, which is likely to mirror his final selection.

Clarke confirmed that Scotland have been given clearance to travel to Spain for warm-weather training, before flying to Portugal to take on Holland in a friendly, and then travelling to Luxembourg for a final warm-up fixture.

He continued: “I don’t want to take somebody away for four days and then tell them that they’re not going to be part of the squad.

“If I name 26, the 26 that are announced will be a provisional squad because things can change, it won’t be too far off the official squad for the tournament.”

Despite having had a strong idea of the final group of players, Clarke has urged fringe players to show their worth over the final weeks of the club season.

WAITING AND WONDERING…David Turnbull holds his head after  hitting the crossbar against Aberdeen last week.

He added: “You never know what’s going to happen in football. Injuries are part and parcel of the game, so it might be that you’re thinking you won’t be involved because you haven’t been in recent squads, but there’s always a chance for people to be involved.

“So everyone has to go out there and do their best, as I’m sure they will do because we’re coming to the end of the season where the prizes are given out. Everybody wants to do well for their clubs and then the selection will be what it is.

“Some will be happy, some will be disappointed, but that’s just the nature of the job.”

When the Scots return from their preparations on the continent, they will be based in England at Middlesbrough’s training ground, with their usual Edinburgh base having already been chosen by Group D opponents, the Czech Republic, who selected Oriam before Scotland had qualified for the tournament.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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