SCOTLAND manager Steve Clarke has admitted that he expects to grill his England counterpart Gareth Southgate for information about how to beat Ukraine before the Qatar 2022 play-off semi-final next year.

The national team were drawn to play the Euro 2020 quarter-finalists in the second round of World Cup qualification in Zurich, Switzerland, yesterday.

If they triumph at Hampden on March 24 they will then go forward to face the winners of the other Path A semi-final between Wales and Austria away from home five days later.

England beat Ukraine 4-0 in Rome in the last eight of Euro 2020 this summer and Clarke anticipates asking Southgate for his thoughts on Oleksandr Petrakov’s side. 

“I will watch the game and if I feel Gareth can help us then I am sure we will bump into each other over the course of the next four months, travelling around the country looking at players,” he said. “I am sure we will bump into each other somewhere.” 

Clarke added: “Like any draw, you have to deal with it. It will be a tough game. Ukraine is a top side. They are well-organised and difficult to beat. 

“They didn’t lose a game in their qualifying campaign, although there were a lot of draws. It will be a tough game. 

“They have the added advantage of playing at Hampden recently and they had a very good night (Ukraine won their last 16 match against Sweden in Glasgow in June). They won’t be too bothered about coming to Hampden.” 

Meanwhile, Clarke has admitted that he expects FIFA to scrap the accumulated bookings from the group stages for the play-offs – meaning that no fewer than eight Scotland players can take part in the semi-final without fearing a final ban.

No fewer than eight players – Che Adams, Billy Gilmour, Jack Hendry, John McGinn, Scott McTominay, Kevin Nisbet, Stephen O’Donnell and Andy Robertson - are currently just one booking away from a suspension.

“As far as I know, it will be addressed,” said Clarke. “The last information I got, which hasn’t been confirmed or clarified, was that we are looking good for an amnesty. 

“It means a lot of the teams can go in without the threat of yellow cards hanging over the final, if you are lucky enough to get there. That is important. All the games will be keenly contested because there is a massive prize at the end of it.”

Elsewhere, Clarke revealed that John Fleck, the Scotland midfielder who collapsed while playing for Sheffield United in a Championship match at Reading on Tuesday night and had to be taken to hospital, has informed him he is in good health.

“John’s fine,” he said. “I had a little text message exchange. I didn’t want to phone him when he was in hospital. I am sure he had loads and loads of people who wanted to call him. John has assured me he is fine. It was a scary moment for everybody and thankfully he seems to be over the worst.”