Scotland boss Steve Clarke says he is not afraid of getting tough with the likes of Jurgen Klopp after seeing numerous withdrawals from his national squad.
Scotland captain Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay and Ryan Fraser all missed the win over Cyprus and they will sit out Tuesday’s final Euro 2020 qualifier with Kazakhstan.
Leeds defender Liam Cooper was also another key man missing from Clarke’s squad and the former Kilmarnock chief has hinted that he is prepared to be “strong” and make the most of regulations surrounding international squad withdrawals if a similar thing happens again in March.
Scotland face the Euro 2020 play-offs in March 2020 with their opponents likely to be either Bulgaria or Israel and Clarke would be well within his rights to block players playing for their clubs if they have withdrawn from his camp though injury.
At the current time Clarke confirmed he saw no merit in enforcing FIFA’s rule which stops players from being selected for their club for a further five days after the international window if they are deemed to be injured.
That might well have stopped Liverpool boss Klopp from selecting Andy Robertson, who has an ankle problem, for the Reds’ game at Crystal Palace this weekend.
“As you probably noticed from my short time at Kilmarnock, I don’t mind a fight if I have to have a fight, as long as it’s a fight for the right reason,” Clarke said.
“If I do have to have a fight, I’ll face it head-on. I don’t shirk away from it. I don’t think I’m a soft character.
“If I need to be strong, I’ll be strong. But, for the moment, I don’t see any value in it.
“When we talk about March, I am sure everyone will turn up for the squad I pick in March, injuries permitting.
“It becomes a case of not wanting to cut off your nose to spite your face. You have to be in a position where you can get your best players.
“You don’t want to cause upset between players, clubs and international managers. I also have to take it at face value that every call-off is an injury call-off.
“The only one which was for personal reasons this time was Matt Phillips. Everyone else was flagged up as an injury by their club.
“You don’t want to harm the relationship between players and their clubs. It’s easy to say: ‘Invoke the five-day rule’.
“But I’m not sure there are any winners when you do that. It puts the player in a difficult position.”