STEVE Clarke last night admitted he understood the public’s apathy towards Scotland's international team in the wake of yet another disappointing result.

The manager and his players targeted Friday night’s home game against Russia as a match they could win, which would have kept alive the now slim hope of qualifying through the group for next summer’s European Championships.

But the 2-1 defeat, with the world’s top ranked team Belgium at Hampden tomorrow evening, means that as expected the play-off will be the country’s best chance of reaching their first major tournament for 22 years.

Clarke admitted his players were deflated after Friday and that he would make changes for the Belgian match with Ryan Christie and Kenny McLean expected to start.

And he was honest enough to acknowledge that the Scottish footballing public had lost interest in the national side and now expect failure and defeat after so many set-backs.

Clarke said: “We have to lift the apathy, it won’t lift itself. As a collective, me, the coaching staff and the players, have to give the fans something to make them want to be at our games again.

“The crowd will only come if we give them something to shout about. The crowd might be a lesser one on Monday but if we can get a good result then maybe the next time we will get a few more.

“We have to give the supporters a sign that we’re going to be a good team in the future. You read things and speak to people, and the sense you get is that people become resigned to not qualifying.

“I think the attitude is ‘typical Scotland’ because we gave people hope on Friday, we started well and then went in front. At that stage people were probably thinking ‘we might do alright here’ and then suddenly the game runs away again.

“I can imagine people just thinking not again, so we have to change that and the only way to do it is to get a big win. I spoke about it before the Russia game and now we have to have another go at getting one on Monday.

“Can we do it? Why not? We have to try. We have to believe we can do it. If I sit here and think we can’t do it, then what do I say to the players. I believe we can do it and we all have to go into the game believing we can do it.”

To a man, the Scotland players blamed themselves for Friday’s loss and admitted frustration that they fell back into bad habits, such as sitting deep when leading 1-0 after an excellent start in which they were the better side.

Clarke said: “I think always after a big game where you feel as if you have to get something out of it, as it was on Friday night, and take nothing out it – not even a point - then there is going to be a lull and I won’t lie the players were very flat this morning.

“It is our job to try and pick them up and make sure we have a good go on Monday: try and show everybody that we are as good as we think we are. We think we have enough good players in the squad, we think we should be more competitive in the group, at the moment the points tally doesn’t lie. We are where we are.”

Ryan Jack is a doubt for Belgium, his knee has swollen, and Oli McBurnie took a knock on his calf but is expected to make it.