SCOTT McTominay insisted last night that Scotland’s players are ready to prove they are prepared to “die on the pitch” for new manager Steve Clarke.

Doubts were cast at times – rightly or wrongly - under the reign of Clarke’s predecessor Alex McLeish about the appetite of some members of the squad towards international football, but the 55-year-old from Saltcoats is a man who commands loyalty and commitment from his players and that suits McTominay fine.

While the Manchester United midfielder trained for the first time under the former Kilmarnock manager at Oriam yesterday ahead of the double header with Cyprus and Belgium, the requirement to buy in completely under Clarke is something he is well-versed in from his time playing under Jose Mourinho, whom Clarke also spent years working under as Chelsea. If players aren’t prepared to put their bodies on the line for their country, he may just find someone who is.

“I feel like you have to earn faith and respect from top coaches,” said McTominay. “Like Ole [Gunnar-Solksajer, his manager at Manchester United] at the minute. He is a top coach and an even better manager and you have to earn that.


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“If you don’t earn that then someone will take your place, and it’s the same with the new boss here: you have to show you’re willing to die for him in the pitch.

“You have to come off the pitch feeling that was all you could give and then go onto the next game in the same way.”

McTominay - brought into the international fold by McLeish amid rival interest from England yet used sparingly – insists that Scotland can’t afford to waste time dwelling upon what has gone wrong in this campaign.

“That’s football,” said McTominay. “Managers move on, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. All the boys are really focused on working under Steve Clarke. This is a journey we are all going on together and we need to get to a major tournament. All the boys are completely driven to go for that goal.

“It was tough the way it panned out. But now it’s about getting a reaction and not dwelling on those two games. Although we did beat San Marino we should have done much, much better than we did on the night. But we have to leave that in the past now and instead totally focus on the games ahead.


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“This is a proper clean slate for us. It is a chance for us to really push on and show people that we really are more than capable of going to a major tournament. That is the message that has been talked about within the group and the manager has that same belief as well.”

Since his last match on May 12, McTominay has fitted in a brief holiday but he has been keeping himself in shape.

“I’ve been ticking over because I knew I had big games coming up,” he said. “That’s just the way I have been brought up as a player, right from reserve team football through to the first team and then now international level. You have to work hard and if you don’t then that’s it – you get found out.”