Scotland’s preparations for their long-awaited return to a major tournament have been thrown into chaos after a further six players were forced to sit out Wednesday’s pre-Euro 2020 friendly against the Netherlands in Portugal.
John Fleck was already missing from the Scotland party that travelled from their training base in Spain after testing positive for Covid-19. Now, a risk assessment by the Scottish Football Association has deemed another half-dozen players – Che Adams, Nathan Patterson, Stephen O’Donnell, David Marshall, John McGinn and Grant Hanley – were in the vicinity of Fleck for long enough to warrant staying in Spain as a precaution. All six have returned negative coronavirus tests – including one on Wednesday – and, unlike Fleck, are not in isolation.
What is being portrayed as an ultra-cautious SFA approach presents Steve Clarke with significant problems. Marshall has been his first-choice goalkeeper; O’Donnell and Patterson were his two available right-backs; Adams, McGinn and Hanley are almost certain first-choice starters. Clarke had previously highlighted the meeting with the Netherlands as important with specific regard to facing England at Wembley on 18 June.
Scott McTominay and Billy Gilmour were late in joining the squad after being given extra leave following European finals involving Manchester United and Chelsea respectively. It remains to be seen whether they are given a more significant role than planned against Frank de Boer’s Netherlands.
Scotland play away to Luxembourg on Sunday before their training base switches to the north-east of England.