MANAGER Steve Clarke is still confident Scotland will qualify for Euro 2020 – and hopes a full house will be allowed into Hampden to help their cause.

UEFA have provisionally pencilled in an October date for the rescheduled home play-off semi-final tie with Israel, with an away trip to either Norway or Serbia awaiting the winners. With some social distancing measures still likely to be in place by autumn, that match could potentially be played in front of a reduced crowd or even behind closed doors.

Clarke naturally hopes to have the backing of 50,000 noisy Scotland fans whenever that match is played but only if it is safe to do so.

He said: “I remain confident that we can qualify for Euro 2020 next year when football returns and just hope that by then it will be safe for the supporters to help us. That, though, is out of our hands. There’s still a lot of work to be done – and a year is a very long time in international football – but the players are clearer on how I like to set-up and I am clearer on how to play to our strengths.

“We learned a lot as a team in the past year, even in the defeats against Belgium and

Russia. The results against Russia were the biggest disappointments because I felt we gave ourselves a platform in both games to get positive results and missed the opportunity to at least put some pressure on them in regards to automatic qualification.

“By the end of the qualifiers I think we had a better

balance of playing to our

attacking strengths and being more stable defensively.

“Who knows what lies ahead but the experiences of the past year will help us and also the events of recent months will give us all a new appreciation of the things we took for granted.”

Meanwhile, Former Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan reckons the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should have helped football find a way to play the current season to a finish.

With the Premiership expected to be called by the SPFL this week and other countries curtailing their campaigns because of the coronavirus pandemic, Regan believes not enough “creative thinking” has been applied to the sporting problem.

He said: “We can move the World Cup from the summer to the winter and the rest of the world has to fit in and restructure their season, which affected a three-year period, in order to accommodate that.

“So, why can’t we have some creative thinking in football and say, ‘Why does the season need to finish?’”