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Ally McCoist insisted Scotland’s injury crisis should not douse national optimism for Euro 2024 as he backed Steve Clarke’s side to overcome their pre-tournament adversity and challenge for a place in the knockout phase.

Scotland were already unable to call on Aaron Hickey, Nathan Patterson and Lewis Ferguson when the provisional 28-man squad was named last month.

Over the past week, forwards Lyndon Dykes and Ben Doak have seen their Euros dream dashed by injury, with Bristol City striker Tommy Conway subsequently promoted from the under-21s on Tuesday evening.

Others within the squad, including Grant Hanley and Stuart Armstrong, are currently bidding to return to full fitness in time for the tournament after lay-offs.

Ally McCoist
Ally McCoist at the launch of a campaign by IRN-BRU, who are celebrating Scotland’s ‘Mannschaft’ – the German word for team (Michael Leckie/PA)

However, McCoist – who played at Italia 90, Euro 92 and Euro 96 – does not see any reason for Scottish excitement to be dialled down as Clarke’s men prepare to face host nation Germany, Switzerland and Hungary in Group A later this month.

“It’s not ideal but it’s part and parcel in the build-up to any big tournament,” McCoist told the PA news agency, speaking on behalf of IRN-BRU, whose recently released innuendo-laden Scottish ‘Mannschaft’ advert went viral.

“As disappointing as it’s been, for the boys more than anything, optimism is still at a very, very high level for me.

“If there was a league table for optimism, we’d be top of it every year. The fact it’s our first tournament since 1998 that we’ve been able to travel to is clearly generating a lot of excitement.

Scotland have been hit by injuries to key players (Steve Welsh/PA)

“The older you get, there’s a greater level of realism comes in, although it doesn’t necessarily lower the optimism. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m aware how difficult the task will be.

“I don’t think the injuries have helped us, but I wouldn’t rule out finishing in the top two (in the group). I wouldn’t rule out anything.

“The four best third-placed teams also get out of the group so I’m pretty optimistic we can get out of the group.

“I think if you win one game you would have a chance of getting out of the group in third place, and I don’t think that’s beyond us.”

Tommy Conway
Scotland Under-21 forward Tommy Conway has been added to the full squad (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Given the way things have gone in recent months, McCoist says Scotland’s main objective from this Friday’s friendly at home to Finland is simply to get through it “unscathed” before heading to Germany to face the host nation in Munich the following week.

“That’s all Stevie will want,” he said. “It’s just an exercise to keep them fit and keep them reasonably match sharp.

“Nothing they can do will replicate the opening 90 minutes of that tournament against Germany.

“When the draw was made I was a lot happier about facing Germany because we didn’t have any injuries and they were struggling a little bit.

Ally McCoist
Ally McCoist is looking forward to covering Scotland’s games at the Euros (Peter Byrne/PA)

“But in the months that have passed they have hit a bit of form. I still maintain it’s a good game for us and it’s a great time to have them though.

“We’ll probably go into all of our games as underdogs but we’ll certainly go into the Germany game as heavy underdogs, which sometimes suits us.”

McCoist will be on co-commentary duty for ITV at Euro 2024 and is relishing being in Germany for Scotland’s first tournament on foreign soil in 26 years.

“I can’t lie, I’m most looking forward to the Scotland games, which will be brilliant,” he said. “I’ve got my gang coming out for a couple of the games, I’m looking forward to my kids coming out, it will be their first Scotland trip travelling to see a major tournament, like it will be for a generation.

“I’ve got some great games, I’ve got Spain v Italy, but it’s the Scotland games I’m looking forward to most.

“It’s an adventure. The football of course is vitally important but at the same time, just the trip, the education, the enjoyment and everything about it, people will remember it for the rest of their lives.”

McCoist was amused by IRN-BRU’s pre-Euros advert, which features a rousing speech from a proud Scotland fan in a bier halle following a chat with a German supporter. In the ad, the fan addresses the German team with a cheeky message of “liquid optimism” for the Scottish Mannschaft, which has “grown strong and mighty” in recent years.

“I thought it was brilliant,” added McCoist. “My English mates at Talksport thought it was brilliant. They’re not very forthcoming in praise of anything Scottish, but they loved the advert.”