Shelley Kerr: Scotland Women will be inspired by men in our crunch qualifiers

Shelley Kerr is confident her players will take inspiration from the men’s squad as she prepares Scotland’s women for a crucial double header in their quest to reach Euro 2021.

After missing last month’s 1-0 defeat in Finland, experienced Arsenal trio Kim Little, Jen Beattie and Lisa Evans all return to a 27-player squad the head coach believes is one of the strongest she has picked.

The Scots have matches away to Portugal on November 27 and against Finland at Easter Road four days later.

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Lying third in their qualifying group – one point behind Portugal and four behind Finland, who have played a game more – the Scots need to dislodge one of the top two to give themselves a chance of reaching the finals.

Kim Little is back in the Scotland squad after missing the last match through injury. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
Kim Little is back in the Scotland squad after missing the last match through injury. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS

The group winners and three best runners-up qualify directly for the rescheduled Euro 2021 finals in England in 2022, while the six further second-placed teams advance to play-offs.

Kerr’s squad played in their first World Cup last summer and she believes her players can take inspiration from Steve Clarke’s men by qualifying for the Euros too.

“Steve and the guys have set a real example and we want to emulate that,” said Kerr, who revealed that she is in regular contact with Clarke. “It’s massive for the country and we want to feed of it.

“Steve is a calming influence and sometimes he gives me words of wisdom. We’re in constant communication, which I really like.

“When Steve came into the role he was blown away by what the women had done. Now, it’s our turn to look to the men’s team to see how they have qualified and maybe get some secrets. It’s fantastic for the country.”

Although Lana Clelend is still missing, Fiona Brown is back in the squad for the first time since the World Cup. She has recovered from a long-term injury and is playing first-team football for her club, Rosengard. Aston Villa midfielder Chloe Arthur also returns to the 27-strong squad.

But it is the return of the infuential Arsenal trio, and of Little in particular, that represents the biggest boost for the Scots.

Little played 90 minutes as Arsenal drew 1-1 with Chelsea in the Women's Super League at the weekend, while Evans was an unused substitute. Beattie did not feature.

“Kim is such a talent,” explained Kerr. “Her football intelligence and game awareness is massive. She’s one of the best players in Europe. When you play in big games you need big players.

“Having Kim, Jennifer and Lisa back is massive for us. They are big characters and they’ve been over the course before.”

Naming an extra-large squad due to the dangers of Covid-19 infiltrating the camp, Kerr is optimistic and is targeting victory in both matches. She said: “It’s brilliant to have some of the experienced players back who missed out the last time. We missed out on about 400 caps in the last game.

“You need that experience. It’s a strong and competitive squad. We’re going to need that because they are two really tough games. But we go into the games aiming to win.”