STEVE Clarke last night admitted he is hopeful his Scotland players have learned invaluable lessons from their failure to reach the last 16 of Euro 2020 and can make history against Hungary this evening.

The national team can progress to the knockout rounds a major tournament for the first time ever if they win their third Euro 2024 group game in the MHPArena here in Stuttgart in Germany.

Clarke is confident his charges are both better prepared and more experienced than they were three years ago when they lost 3-1 to World Cup finalists Croatia at Hampden and missed out.

READ MOREHow the Tartan Army brought a tear to the eye of an Englishman

“We feel good,” he said as he spoke to the media at the stadium where the Group A fixture will take place tonight. “We thought it might come down to needing to get something from the last game of the group.  

“That’s the stage we are at. But we’ve been in this position before in the last tournament. Hopefully we can show that we have learned a few lessons. There has been a lot of recovery, a lot of rest, hopefully some good information for the players. 

“We had a really good training session this morning with really good information for them. When they cross the white line they have to put that information into practice on the pitch and hopefully you see the results at the end.” 

(Image: PA) Clarke continued: “They have a helluva lot more experience. That is one of the things we set out to do. We said if we can qualify more regularly for these tournaments you understand what you are doing.

“I think the mental side of the game is massive. We felt that in the first game and it was probably more the mental side of the game that let us down and the fact we didn’t get round to doing what we are good at.

“In the second game we did what we are good at and we got a positive result. Hopefully we go into the match tomorrow and we do what we are good at. If we do what we are good at, we’ve got a chance.

“Everybody knows how big a game it is and you can talk and talk and talk about it. We probably did a little too much of that in the first game so we will try to underplay this one if you can ever underplay a game of this magnitude. We will try to underplay it a little bit and make sure we are ready to go come kick-off.

“I think we have done a lot of things right this time that maybe we didn’t get quite right the last time. Hopefully when we get to the last game the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. That’s what we are after.”

READ MOREScotland can exorcise ghosts of past and achieve Euro 2024 immortality

Asked how he personally dealt with the huge excitement and massive anticipation surrounding the Hungary game, Clark said: “In my own way. Listen, the whole tournament has given a sense of occasion. 

“To come out here and be involved in Scotland’s first major overseas tournament since 1998? In 1998 I was still playing, so that’s a long time ago. So it’s nice to be here and I think you can see with the supporters we’ve got out here how much they are enjoying being here. 

“I’m sure the five million back in Scotland who didn’t manage to travel are also engrossed in the tournament and wishing us well. That’s what it means to everybody.

“It’s not just about this game, but we are getting to the point of the tournament where we know we need to win the next game to get to the next round and that’s what we plan to do.”

Clarke will achieve something which none of his predecessors as Scotland manager – not Willie Ormond, not Ally MacLeod, not Jock Stein, not Sir Alex Ferguson, not Andy Roxburgh, not Craig Brown – accomplished if Scotland progress out of the group stages. 

Asked if he had thought about what it will mean for him personally if the national team go through, he said: “Nope. Not at all. If we can do it as a group, my staff and my players, I will be delighted for them.”