ROBERTO Martinez predicted last night that Scotland have the potential under Steve Clarke to develop into one of the power houses of European football again. The Belgium manager, whose side have come from nowhere in the last decade to top the FIFA rankings, rhymed off the emerging talent which the 55-year-old from Saltcoats has to call upon for tonight’s Group I qualifier for Euro 2020 at the King Badouin Stadium in Brussels and insists that they are only going to get stronger as the years go by.

Suffice to say that he is expecting a far tougher encounter than the one he was given in an off-colour display by Alex McLeish’s side in a 4-0 Hampden friendly win last September.

“I think we played a friendly and we need to remember that,” said Martinez yesterday. “It was a test – they were trying things and it was a very open game. Tomorrow is going to be a competitive game. They are in a really good moment of confidence, scoring in the last minute [against Cyprus] with a new coach. They were very impressive so quickly. They’re a team that is very well positioned defensively and have huge pace in the wide areas. It is a young but very talented Scotland team.


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“We know that playing Kazakhstan home and away is different,” he added. “We know this is a team that will get stronger – there’s a lot of young talent. They’ve had a good season – [Ryan] Fraser ant Bournemouth is probably only behind Eden Hazard in number of assists. [Andy] Robertson has just won the Champions League. There’s a lot of talent: [John] McGinn and [Kenny] McLean have just won promotion to the Premier League. [Oliver] Burke and [James] Forrest have just done another treble, so you’ve got a winning mentality and a team potentially going to be strong in Europe.”