STEVE Clarke last night hit back at “really poor” criticism of his Scotland captain Andy Robertson in the wake of the 1-1 draw with Israel in the Qatar 2022 qualifier in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Clarke felt the Liverpool defender had performed well in the Group F fixture in the Bloomfield Stadium both as a wing back in the first-half and as a left back in the second after a switch of formation.

He was disappointed at the reaction to his skipper’s display from some fans and the media and insisted the match proved that Robertson and Arsenal player Kieran Tierney can play in the same side. 

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Asked if getting both players into the same starting line-up was a problem for him, Clarke said: “I think it’s a problem more for the media, the pundits and the supporters. Not for us.

“I thought our left hand side, with Robertson and Tierney - whether Kieran was at left centre-back and Andy at left-back or Kieran left of a three with Andy left wing-back - worked well.

“I thought the criticism of Andy Robertson the other night was poor. He had a good game so judge the player. It was poor, really poor, as Andy Robertson had a good game for us the other night in the first and second half.”

Glasgow Times:

Clarke, whose team take on the Faroe Islands in their third World Cup qualifier at Hampden this evening, also dismissed claims that Robertson performs better for Liverpool than he does for Scotland.

“I think it’s unfair, it’s a different team,” he said. “Listen, we’ve spoken about this one before with everyone saying you can’t get Kieran and Andy in the same team.

“But we can do it. We’ve done it. Consistently. And maybe that’s one of the reasons we’ve qualified for a major tournament. Both of them were decent that night (in the Euro 2020 play-off final in November). For me it’s no longer a discussion. We can do it.

“They can play in the same team. Kieran likes to play on the left as well as Andy. I think we have found a way to do that.”

Glasgow Times:

Clarke switched from a 3-5-1-1 formation to a 4-2-3-1 at half-time against Israel and Scotland performed well in the second-half. However, he dismissed suggestions that a back four suits them better.

“Kieran is exceptional at left centre back and Andy likes to get forward,” he said.  “He gets balls into the box. I do not think a back four suits them better.  

“It suited them better the other night because we made a tweak in the game that upset the Israelis a little bit and it took them 15 to 20 minutes to work out what we had actually done. But no, I don’t see that. 

“Listen, it was an easy switch as well. The vast majority play in a back four at their clubs. We are not asking them to do anything they do not do at their clubs. 

“Whether we start with a back three or back four, if you can make that in game change and it changes the context of the game and the way it is going then that can only be good for us going forward. 

“But I would not be getting too hung up on systems or whatever because the 3-5-2 or the 3-4-2-1 or 3, 4, 1, 2, you can play all day with numbers and kid different formations, playing three at the back got us to the Euros so it has been a good system for us.” 

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