Scotland should not rely on Billy Gilmour to revive their World Cup qualifying campaign and need senior players to step up against Moldova, Steve Clarke has insisted.
The 20-year-old midfielder is set to make his first international appearance on home soil on Saturday when Scotland host a team below the Faroe Islands at the foot of Group F. Gilmour, on loan at Norwich from Chelsea, was man of the match on his full debut against England at the European Championship and among the few to emerge with credit from Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat by the runaway group leaders Denmark.
But Clarke is wary of placing too much responsibility on a player making only his fifth senior appearance for Scotland, and is looking to more experienced internationals to guide the team through a must-win game at Hampden Park.
“If Billy plays he has a great chance to show the Tartan Army what he is all about,” the Scotland manager said. “But I think they already know that. Most of them will have watched the game at Wembley and once the game came back to us and we found our level [against Denmark] he got on the ball and did really well. We keep talking about him and he is a big prospect but let’s not put too much pressure on young shoulders. Let’s look for some of the senior boys to turn up as well and make sure the performance is good.”
Clarke lost eight members of his original squad to injury and Covid issues before the defeat in Copenhagen but will have Motherwell right-back Stephen O’Donnell and the Hibernian striker Kevin Nisbet back. With only one full training session between the Denmark defeat and Saturday, he admits patience may be required at Hampden.
“We know they will be dogged,” he said. “They were dogged the other night against Austria, who took until 45 minutes to get the first goal and 96 minutes to get the second. It is up to us to break the resilience, dominate the ball, pass the ball well, pass it quickly and create chances to get the crowd on board, and hopefully get a good performance and a good three points.
“All the players, coaching staff and myself are looking forward to having the backing of the Tartan Army again. Hopefully we can get a fast start in the game, start on the front foot and get them right behind them team as they can make a difference.”