STEVE Clarke has called on Scotland to extend their winning run in the Nations League match against Israel and go into the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final with much-needed momentum behind them.

Clarke’s side will play their first match since last November when they host Israel at Hampden in their opening Group B2 fixture this evening.

The national team will face the same opposition in the rescheduled play-off semi-final next month – but the manager feels this outing will have no bearing on that encounter.

However, he is keen for Scotland, who beat San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhstan before the coronavirus outbreak, to do well against Israel at home tonight and the Czech Republic away on Monday.

If they triumph against Willibald Ruttensteiner’s men it will be the first time since back in 2007 they have been victorious in four consecutive matches.

“We want the positivity, which would mean we’ve kept our unbeaten run going,” said Clarke. “We are on three wins in a row and we’d like to make it four.

“Next month’s game is a separate competition, it’s a knockout, one-off game that will be played in a completely different manner and in a different way with a different mentality.

“It’s a different competition and one-off games tend to look after themselves a little bit so we’ll leave that one until next month and focus on trying to get this Nations League campaign off to a good start with three points at home.

“I think what’s more important for us is that after nine and a half months we have a chance to get two games under our belts before the October qualifier.

“I think we look to build on the momentum we had last year. It’s obviously been a long gap between games. It’s been a very strange long gap if you like, unprecedented times with everyone stuck at home.

“It is really important that we re-focus from the very start. We all came out of Hampden with a big smile on our faces last November and we want to carry that positivity into these games coming up.”

Scotland won’t have any fans to cheer them on due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Clarke is confident his charges, who have all played behind closed doors at club level, will cope with the lack of atmosphere.

“The players will certainly have their heads around it better than I will,” he said. “I haven’t experienced it yet.

“I am a 100 per cent believer that football is a spectator sport and it is sad in these times that we cannot get people in the ground. But obviously you have to be guided by the safety.

“Hopefully by the time we get around to the games next month we are allowed to have at least some supporters in the stadium. But in terms of these games behind closed doors the players will have much more experience than me and will be a little bit more attuned to the conditions.”

Clarke added: “I will be able to pass on coaching methods – it will be like going back many, many years to when I took the youth team on a Saturday morning when you could shout and the players could hear you and respond.

“So, yes, it can be a little bit of a positive. But like I said, football for me at any sort of senior level should be played in front of a big crowd with the atmosphere and the pride and passion the Tartan Army show all the time.”