Scotland will play in front of a sea of empty seats against San Marino at Hampden tonight.
However, manager Steve Clarke – who has presided over four defeats in his five games in charge of the country – insists it should make zero difference to the Dark Blues’ performance.
“If the stadium was empty, we still have to win the game,” he said.
“We have to go to the game, not looking for the crowd to give us anything.
“We have to go to win the game, whatever crowd is there.
“If we can win the game, and hopefully put on a good performance, they enjoy the game and that will be the most important thing.
“Listen, everything we want to achieve is still in front of us. We want to win the next game, so that’s in front of us.
“We want to win the next three games, so that’s in front of us.
“If we achieve that, then we go into the Nations League play-offs in March with positivity
“Then we would be talking hopefully about a full house here at Hampden, with the chance through two matches to qualify for Euro 2020.
“So, as I say, everything that was in front of us when I came into the job is still there in front of us to be achieved.
“If that’s not an incentive for the players, I don’t know what is.”
With just 10,000 tickets sold as of last night, there is a fair chance there will be the fewest paying customers EVER for a qualifier at Hampden.
The current low is 11,375 for the European Championship qualifying match against Romania in December, 1975.
Clarke did acknowledge the cumulative effect of losing four straight games when assessing the threat posed by a visitor who have never won a competitive game away in their history.
They are on a 33-game losing streak, and haven’t even scored a goal for over two years.
But Clarke insisted: “I definitely don’t treat San Marino lightly. We’re not in a position where we can treat anybody lightly.
“We’re in a position where we have to win a game of football.
“Sometimes it can be hard to win any game of football.
“We have had a rough four games against good opposition, against very good opposition, and we have suffered for it.
“The only way to turn the corner is to start winning games, and we have an opportunity to win a game.”
It is state of affairs that, Clarke admits, will influence his team selection.
Sunderland keeper Jon McLaughlin will come in for David Marshall, but otherwise it will be more conservative than would otherwise have been expected.
“It would be nice to be able to give one or two a cap, but I have to decide what is the best team to get a result,” said the Scotland boss.
“Don’t forget, the other night in Moscow, Liam Palmer got his second cap, Mikey Devlin got his first cap, John Fleck got his first cap.
“There have already been one or two players who have been capped who haven’t been involved before.
“If I can do that against San Marino, that’s what I’ll do – if I think that’s going to give us the result we need.
“In the case of Jon, it was pre-planned. It was always going to be the case he would play.
“David Marshall’s been the number one since I came in.
“Obviously, something might happen to David over the next few months, so you need to have another goalkeeper who has had some minutes on the pitch.
“I want Jon to have the experience of playing for the national team at Hampden. It’s important to take that chance.”
Lawrence Shankland is also likely to be involved at some point after showing up well on debut against Russia.
San Marino coach Franco Varella, meanwhile, insisted he was hoping just to avoid another heavy defeat in the wake of Thursday’s 9-0 thrashing by Belgium.
“We realise this is a delicate moment for the Scottish national team, but this is a country and stadium that is rich in history and we can expect a reaction from them tomorrow,” he said.
“I hope Scotland play their usual style, play well and they do not punish us too much.”
As to whether his words were a cunning attempt at mind games, only time will tell.
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