Blow for Steve Clarke as Celtic and Rangers stars to get reduced rest before huge Scotland encounter
Europa League involvement scuppers SPFL plans
Steve Clarke has been dealt a blow in his preparations for the Euro 2020 play-off against Israel after it was announced Celtic and Rangers’ last league fixtures before the tie have been moved back two days.
The SPFL originally granted five days of rest before the crucial game with Israel on Thursday 8 October.
A full Scottish Premiership fixture card was scheduled for Friday 2 October, but the Old Firm’s participation in the Europa League has enforced a change. The play-off round matches for Europe’s secondary club competition will all be held on Thursday 1 October.
Rangers’ home clash with Ross County will now take place on Sunday 4 October with a 3pm kick-off, while Celtic’s televised trip to St Johnstone has been moved to noon on the same day.
Five Old Firm players are expected to be included in Clarke’s squad, including Celtic trio Ryan Christie, James Forrest and Callum McGregor, who are regular starters for the national team.
There will be additional rest for Motherwell pair Declan Gallagher and Stephen O’Donnell, Livingston keeper Robbie McCrorie and Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland, though none of them saw any action in the recent Nations League double-header against Israel and Czech Republic.
Scotland are attempting to make it to the play-off final and the opportunity to qualify for their first major tournament since France 98.
If they defeat Israel they will travel to either Norway or Serbia on 12 November. Again, a Friday fixture card has been planned in anticipation, but similar disruption will occur if Celtic and Rangers make it to the group stages of the Europa League.
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