STEVE Clarke last night blamed "fragile confidence" on Scotland's catastrophic second-half collapse in the 4-0 defeat to Russia and vowed to look to new players before the Euro 2020 play-offs next March.

The national team performed well in the first-half of their Group I match against the World Cup quarter-finalists in the Luzhniki Stadium and deserved to be level at half-time.

However, Andy Robertson and his team mates allowed Artem Dzyuba to net twice and Magomed Ozdoev and Aleksandr Golovin to score once each in the second-half.

Clarke - whose side were beaten 4-0 by Belgium at Hampden last month - admitted that Scotland's results in their last four matches had been "dreadful".

However, the 56-year-old stressed that he wouldn't shy away from the challenge that he has taken on and vowed the loss would be the low point of his reign.

Asked why his team had performed so badly in the second-half, Clarke said: "We conceded a soft goal from a corner. Man on man, we have to do better. From there we quickly allowed the game to run away from us.

"I have to put it down to fragile confidence. The players seemed to lose confidence very quickly, which is unfortunate."

Asked how he intended to halt Scotland's run of bad results, Clarke said: "Hard work. Maybe one or two different selections in terms of squad instead of starting XI. We can't keep conceding goals.

"We have to make sure this is the very lowest, the bottom. We have to make sure that we build towards March and give ourselves our best chance of getting through the play-offs.

"On the back of back-to-back 4-0 defeats it is hard to be positive. Listen, the results are dreadful. We have to make sure this is the lowest of the low. I was brought up the hard way. I am in for the fight and I think the players are in for the fight as well.

"In all the games that we've played there have been moments when we have shown what we are trying to do."

Asked why he hadn't started either Ryan Christie or James Forrest, Clarke said: "The thinking behind it tonight was I wanted three solid midfield players in the middle and I thought that for 57 minutes that was working well.

"We went out of the game because we switched off at a corner and then allowed fragile confidence took over."

Stanislav Cherchesov, the Russia manager, revealed that telling his players to go more direct at half-time had been responsible for their improved second-half performance.

“I talked to the players during the break," he said. "I was telling them that in midfield we shouldn’t pass too much, just send the ball to the area where there is danger. Scotland weren’t solid at the back and that’s why we went a little deeper. After we scored with a set-piece we clearly had an advantage.”

“What we need to do now is assess our performance tonight and help the players recover because they worked hard tonight. We play for our national flag so we have to be ready.”