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Clarke aims to keep Scotland positivity going against Cyprus

The nation's new manager has picked his team and says they have the quality to qualify.

Steve Clarke has decided which players he will trust to start his Scotland reign against Cyprus and backed them to build on the positivity around the national team.

Clarke will be in the dugout for the first time since succeeding Alex McLeish and the reaction to his appointment has been positive.

After a week training with his squad he said that feel-good factor was there despite disappointing results previously.

After a poor start to the Euro 2020 qualifiers, the match against Cyprus at Hampden already looks to be a 'must win' and Clarke says he has identified the players he thinks can earn three points.

"I'm really, really impressed with the quality of the players in the group," he said. "I'm really surprised that there has been that much negativity around the national team.

"When I came in I was very open-minded about the starting group, maybe with the exception of three or four players. As the week has gone on, I've got closer and closer and I know in my mind now what the starting 11 will be.

"Later on tonight when we have another team meeting, the players will know as well."

Clarke revealed that he had kept things fairly simple on the training thing and was keen to see them deliver.

"It has been very enjoyable," he said. "Nice to be on the training pitch.

"I have a very receptive group of players and hopefully they take the messages and details we have tried to give them.

"We have given them the basics and from that, if you get the basics right and don't clutter the players' minds too much with science and allow them to express themselves, hopefully that will be good enough to get three points.

"Obviously I would have liked another 150 training sessions, a bit more repetition, but I think I have an intelligent bunch of players and hopefully you see those results on Saturday night.

"I think it's always important to look at everything. You can't just ignore what happened before so I've had a look at those games but that's in the past."

The former Kilmarnock boss admitted he would be emotional at leading the team out in front of the Tartan Army on Saturday and joked that the occasion may overwhelm him.

"Obviously, it'll be the pinnacle of my career standing out there tomorrow night in front of the Scotland supporters as manager of the national team," Clarke said. "It'll be an emotional occasion for me. Hopefully I don't burst into tears."

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