STEVE Clarke last night stressed he will blank out all thoughts of a potential Battle of Britain showdown with Wales for a place in the Qatar 2022 finals next March and focus fully on beating Ukraine in the semi-final in the coming months.

The national team were drawn to face the Euro 2020 quarter-finalists in the second round in Zurich, Switzerland, yesterday and will now take on Oleksandr Petrakov’s side at Hampden on March 24.

Their prize for victory in that difficult one-off encounter will be an away match against the victors of the other Path A semi-final between Wales and Austria in either Cardiff or Vienna five days later.

Clarke confessed that squaring up Rob Page’s team with a World Cup final spot at stake is a mouth-watering prospect – but emphasised that he is looking no further than Scotland’s next competitive fixture.

“If we are lucky enough to go through and face the Welsh in Cardiff then that should be a fantastic occasion,” he said. “But I am not going to start talking too much about a Wales v Scotland game in Cardiff when we have a really tough game against Ukraine to get over first.

“We will do all our due diligence and we will prepare for Ukraine, Austria and Wales. We will be hoping two more good performances and games can get us those final two steps to Qatar.

“We certainly won’t be distracted by it. We always treat our immediate opponents with the utmost respect. So that’s what Ukraine will get. They will get all our respect. We will approach the game with a bit of humility and we’ll do as well as we can.

"They are all good teams. There was nothing to get too excited about, we knew whoever we were going to get would be a tough draw. Ukraine is up there with the toughest and from that we know Wales have done really well recently and we know the Austrians well because we played them in the group stages.

"It's something for everyone to focus on over the winter months and look forward to some good games in March, hopefully.”

Clarke added: “Ukraine will be a tough game. I don’t think it matters who we were going to get in the semi-final draw, it was always going to be tough. We will go away and do our homework on Ukraine and try and come up with a winning formula.

 “We know the Austrians well because we played them twice in the qualifying campaign. These draws tend to throw up a rematch and we have seen that in recent times when we have played Israel an awful lot. 

“We know what to expect going to Austria and Vienna. Travel is not too bad to get there and we know what to expect from them. I know the Austrians will also want to improve on what they did in the qualifying campaign. They will be dangerous opponents.”

Scotland are currently on a five game winning run – they beat Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark in their final Qatar 2022 qualifier earlier this month to extend their hot streak of form - and the excitement among the Tartan Army ahead of the play-offs is considerable.

Clarke, whose men can reach their first World Cup since France ’98 if they win their next two matches, feels the backing of the home supporters will be a crucial factor in the encounter with Ukraine.

"At the moment, the way the team is playing, the confidence the boys have got, we would be happy to play anyone anywhere,” he said. “But the home leg, full house, we have seen the value of that in the last two home games against Israel and Denmark.

"The home crowd should give us an extra boost, but it will be down to the lads on the pitch what actually happens in the game. The crowd will be there. I have always said if the team do well on the pitch then the Tartan Army will turn up in vast numbers. 

“They have managed to do that in the last two games and they have been great occasions at Hampden and hopefully we can make it a third one in March.

“Anybody who has been at Hampden and when the Tartan Army has been in full voice and they are behind the team they know it is an intimidating place to be. That can work in our favour.”