STEVE Clarke has admitted that there is one “little doubt” in his mind as he mulls over his starting line-up for Monday’s clash with the Czech Republic at Hampden. 

Scotland’s 23-year wait to feature at the finals of a major tournament will come to a close that day as the national side’s Euro 2020 campaign begins in earnest. 

With newcomers to the squad such as Billy Gilmour, David Turnbull and Nathan Patterson making their debuts during recent warm-up matches, there has been some speculation among the ranks of the Tartan Army over the starting XI Clarke will opt for against the Czechs. 

The man himself says that the team is all but certain, albeit with one troublesome question mark over an unknown problem position. But everyone – the media, supporters and even the players themselves – will have to wait until Monday to discover Clarke’s plan. 

“More or less,” the Scotland head coach told talkSPORT when asked if his starting XI was set in stone.  

“I’ve got one little doubt that I need to iron out but I’ve got no big issues. I don’t have as many headaches as people are trying to make out in the press. 

“I always had a fair idea of the way we were going to go and the good thing for me as head coach is that no matter which XI I pick, I know they are going to produce for their country. 

“The players will know [if they have been selected] on the day of the game. The more perceptive ones among them might have an idea from the couple of days’ training before but you never know what’s going to happen in a game. 

“You look at scenarios where you might have to make changes within the game, so there’s always that little element of doubt.” 

After their opening fixture against the Czechs, the next stop for Clarke’s men will be a meeting with the Auld Enemy at Wembley on Friday. Much of the build-up has been dominated by the England team’s decision to keep taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to highlight racial injustice – a decision that has resulted in a minority of fans at games booing the gesture. 

The Scottish players have been taking a stand against racism since Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara was abused by Slavia Prague defender Ondrej Kudela but they will take the knee in solidarity with their opponents when they meet in London. 

“The first thing to say about this is that it’s not about the symbolism of what the players are doing – the message is against discrimination of any way, shape or form,” Clarke explained. 

“That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter if you take a stand against racism or if you take a knee against racism, the message is that it’s not acceptable in today’s society and we want to eliminate it from today’s society. 

“That’s the message. Rather than making a big issue about whether it’s standing or taking the knee, it’s more about the message. I think that’s starting to become lost and that’s not correct.” 

With bookies offering odds of around 250/1 for Scotland to go all the way and lift the Henri Delauney trophy, the national team will need to draw on every advantage they have. And according to Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan manager, they have just that in Clarke. 

The Scotland head coach worked under the Portuguese during the latter’s first spell at Stamford Bridge and revealed yesterday that he feels Clarke possesses a “brilliant football mind”. 

“When a coach of Jose’s quality says something like that about you then you should be proud,” Clarke reasoned. “We had great times together at Chelsea. 

“He’s a top coach: one of the best. He’s probably the best coach I’ve worked with in my career so to get that kind of compliment from Jose is very pleasing.”