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Why Steve Clarke decided not to honour Scotland’s most-capped captain Andy Robertson

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Grant Hanley, the Norwich City Centre half, won his 50th cap for his country during the 2-2 draw and entered the SFA Roll of Honour as a result. 

Craig Gordon, meanwhile, made his 75th, and very possibly his last, appearance for his country when he replaced Angus Gunn during the second-half.

The Hearts goalkeeper also became, at the grand old age of 41 years and 158 days, the oldest player ever to represent the national team as he took to the field.

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Elsewhere, Tommy Conway, the young Bristol City striker who was only drafted in to Steve Clarke’s squad as a replacement for the injured Lyndon Dykes earlier this week, made his Scotland debut when Lawrence Shankland was substituted. 

Scotland skipper Andy Robertson made sure that all three of his team mates received keepsakes following the final whistle so they could remember the occasion for the rest of their lives.

“Tommy got a signed strip with the number one on it,” said Clarke yesterday as he looked back on his side’s last outing before they take on hosts Germany in the Euro 2024 opener in Munich this Friday night.

(Image: PA) “There was one with 50 on it for Grant and 75 for Craig. These things come from the captain. It’s his idea, it’s his thoughts going into this. 

“I think he is saying, ‘This is what we’re about – let’s keep the group right and make sure we are always giving these little mementoes’. That’s the thinking behind that. 

“They get a silver medal for 25 caps and a gold medal for 50. I don’t know what they get for 75. But it always takes about a month before they actually get those medal. So it’s nice on the night to actually give something out.”

Robertson, who captained his country for the 49th occasion against Finland, should really have been presented with a commemorative salver, a silver quaich or a set of crystal glasses himself.

No other man, after all, has now donned the armband more for Scotland than the Liverpool left back.

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George Young, the legendary Rangers defender who played back in the 1940s and 1950s, held the previous record of 48. 

But Clarke revealed why there had been no ceremony honouring the former Queen’s Park, Dundee United or Hull City man for his achievement afterwards.

He anticipates there is much more to come from the 30-year-old Glaswegian in the coming weeks and beyond and thinks the time to hail his contribution will only come at some point in the distant future. 

“Andy didn’t get a special shirt,” he said. “He’s definitely not finished. That’s 49 games as captain now and that’s the record. But you look at him and think, ‘Come on Andy, there are a few more to come’.

“He has been great for me. He came in and got the captaincy at a really young age, but he has really grown into the role. He’s a proper leader. 

“The performance from Andy on Friday night was excellent. He was always on the front foot. He’s a proper captain for me.”

(Image: PA) Clarke was, even though his charges conceded two goals in the last 20 minutes and ended up being held to a 2-2 draw, heartened by how Scotland acquitted themselves against Finland. 

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The former Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle United assistant made no fewer than six changes in the last half an hour and gave the likes of Conway, Gordon, Ryan Jack, Scott McKenna, Lewis Morgan and Greg Taylor much-needed game time.

He also felt the fact it was a non-competitive fixture had a significant bearing on the display. He anticipates there will be an increased intensity in the mouthwatering Group A encounter with Germany in the Allianz Arena on Friday night.   

“The competitive edge will be back, the desire to not lose,” he said. “We will be full on 100 per cent. I’m not saying we went out against Finland to try and lose, but you go out and it (getting injured) is always in the back of your mind. 

“Especially with what happened to Lyndon Dykes. I think what happened with Lyndon spooked them a little bit. Now that they’re there, that they’re in the competition, it’s full steam ahead.”

Clarke has a big decision to make about who to play in attack against Germany in the coming days – Che Adams or Lawrence Shankland.  

He decided not to risk the former, who had netted a volley in the 2-0 triumph over Gibraltar in Faro on Monday evening, against Finland due to a minor knock. But he was impressed with how the latter, who made it 2-0 when he headed in a Robertson cross, worked the opposition defence during his time on the park.  

Asked if the Hearts forward had enhanced his prospects of playing at Euro 2024, he said: “Quite a lot I think. He gave me a big smile when he came off. It’s important because, listen, strikers live on goals. 

“Lawrence was a little bit frustrated, I think, after the Gibraltar game because any chances that fell didn’t fall to him. But he kept getting in there on Friday night and he eventually got his head on one. Strikers live on goals.”

(Image: PA)

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