SEEING Andy Robertson drop to the turf at the Stadion am Groben in Garmisch-Partenkirchen shortly after Scotland had got their first training session in Germany underway yesterday morning was no laughing matter for John Carver.

With the Euro 2024 curtain raiser against the tournament hosts looming at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Friday evening, the last thing the national team needed was for their talismanic captain to suffer a serious knock.

Steve Clarke has, after all, already lost Ben Doak, Lyndon Dykes, Lewis Ferguson, Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson to injury ahead of these finals.   

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“I just thought, ‘Not another one!’,” admitted Carver afterwards. “You do worry. We had another one with Zander (goalkeeper Clark) in the warm-up the other night.

“It was the same sort of thing. He hurt his ankle. All of a sudden, you are thinking the worst. You are walking on eggshells because you don’t want anyone to miss out.”

(Image: PA) Mercifully, Liverpool left back Robertson, who left the field immediately to receive medical attention, was not badly hurt and will be fit and available to start in the opening Group A match.

Still, the coach’s reaction underlined that tensions are, not altogether unsurprisingly, growing in the camp as the Germany game draws ever nearer.

It is maybe just as well, then, that a few members of the squad are able to lighten the mood and raise a smile at the drop of a hat. Not least the inimitable John McGinn.

When one member of the squad was asked to join a few of the local Oompah band musicians in a traditional Bavarian dance on stage at the official welcome reception in the Bayernhalle here on Sunday night there was only one possible candidate.

The larger-than-life Aston Villa midfielder firmly embraced the challenge much to the amusement of his team mates - not to mention the delight of the local residents.

His efforts endeared the visitors to their hosts no end and should ensure they receive a lot of goodwill and backing for the duration of their stay. 

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“John’s that kind of guy and it’s great,” said Carver. “Isn’t it good that he joins in with the local people and the culture? I couldn’t have done that – especially when they went down to do the squat! That’s not me that! If I had done that I wouldn’t have been getting up again.

“I was standing behind him just in case he got injured and thinking, ‘John! No! No! No!’ But it was good because he embraced the whole situation. It was very important that we did that because, let’s face it, we are coming into the towns and we need for the hosts to see that we are going to appreciate everything they put on for us and do for us.

“In fairness, there are a few in the group who are very good at raising morale. It is important. The longer you stay in a tournament and go in a tournament the more important it becomes because you are living in each other’s pockets for three, four, five weeks. We have already had two weeks away if you think about it.

“So we need somebody to break the ice and put a smile on faces. Sometimes it is me believe it or not. You might be surprised there! I am not bad with the darts! We obviously have to focus now. But what an environment we are in.”

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Scotland’s form this past season has not been what it was in Euro 2024 qualifying. They went on a seven game run without a victory after beating Cyprus back in September and only got back to winning ways with their underwhelming triumph over Gibraltar against Faro last week. Carver, though, is unconcerned.

(Image: PA) He is confident that players like Che Adams, Ryan Christie, Billy Gilmour, Grant Hanley, Jack Hendry, Angus Gunn, Callum McGregor, McGinn, Scott McTominay, Robertson, Kieran Tierney can shift up a gear when required – like against Germany on Friday night.

Asked if he thought the team could “flick a switch” and increase their levels, he said: “I think they can. One day you can have a bad training session, but the next day you come in and it’s like a totally different group of players. Because players can do that.

“The fact we have three really good days leading into it now means we can get down to some real work. When I say real work, obviously when you are planning for the friendlies it’s a mixture of your starting team. But now we are doing work on the team and formation and how we are going to play.

“You get that criticism sometimes. We have to be strong enough and hard enough not to take any real notice of it. At the end of the day it is about what happens at the end of the Euros, it is about our preparation for that.”

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McTominay has not played since Manchester United’s win over Manchester City in the FA Cup final at Wembley last month. But Carver has no doubts the midfielder, who missed the warm-up friendlies against both Gibraltar and Finland last week, will be in prime condition come kick-off in Munich. 

 “At training this morning he was quite impressive,” he said. “But if you think about it he was one of the last ones to finish because of the cup final. He has been working hard behind the scenes, doing some stuff. He came on that training ground today and looked like he had never been away. He will be ready and firing for sure.

“I am thinking about Friday. Even in training I sometimes say to them to stay out of trouble. It is sometimes difficult, but the closer they get to that first game you see, not their attitudes, but the players’ focus and mindset change. Because you know they have to be ready to go.”