STEVE CLARKE has told his Scotland players that the time to create history has arrived, as he challenged them to lead the nation to their first major tournament in over 20 years.

The Scotland head coach is as eager as any member of the Tartan Army to bring to an end the long wait for tournament football, and announced his squad yesterday for the all-important Euro 2020 play-off encounter with Israel next Thursday night, as well as the Nations League games against Slovakia and the Czech Republic which follow on the Sunday and Wednesday evenings respectively.

And he has reminded each of those players that this is a golden opportunity for each of them to become a national hero by seeing off the Israelis and then either Norway or Serbia in the play-off final.

“This is an opportunity for them to write a little bit of history,” Clarke said. “To write themselves into history and create history for Scottish football.

“It would be a great achievement and we are all aware of how much it means to everybody. The players are especially aware because they all want to be involved in a major final as all these guys play at the top level.

“I played at the top level, but I didn’t get the chance to represent my country at a major final, so if I could do it as a manager it would be great. But it’s the same for the players. They know every tournament that passes us by without qualification is one tournament closer to the end of their careers.

“So, we have a good squad, at a good age and we’re starting to pick up a lot of experience and international caps. But it does get to the stage where you have to say: ‘Come on, it’s time to qualify!’. Hopefully this will be it.”

Clarke is hoping that the absence of the Hampden roar won’t be detrimental in the match against Israel in particular, with the SFA selling out the national stadium prior to the coronavirus pandemic struck.

“It’s definitely not ideal but it’s one of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the situation we all find ourselves in,” he said.

“They won’t be there in body but I’m sure they’ll be with us in spirit, so we need to make sure that, come Thursday night, they’ll all got a smile on their face."