Lukaku: Clarke will turn Scot­land around in time

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - STE­WART FISHER

ROMELU Lukaku last night re­as­sured the Tar­tan Army that Steve Clarke will lead Scot­land back to rel­e­vance at in­ter­na­tional level if they give him the time he needs to turn the na­tional team’s fortunes around.

The 56-year-old played a key role in the In­ter Mi­lan striker’s early ca­reer, giv­ing him his first full sea­son as a first-team player on loan at West Brom from Chelsea and be­ing re­warded with 17 Pre­mier League goals as the Bag­gies fin­ished a re­mark­able eighth in the ta­ble.

With three goals in two games, their shared his­tory hasn’t pre­vented Lukaku from be­ing tor­men­tor-in­chief to Clarke’s Scot­land but the 26-year-old is con­vinced that his former manager can lead Scot­land to a first ma­jor fi­nals since the 1998 World Cup.

“I worked with Steve at West Brom and he will get it right for Scot­land,” said Lukaku. “When we were there to­gether a lot of peo­ple didn’t think we would get to the po­si­tion we did – but we did it. If you give Steve time he will get it right. He is the right man to give young play­ers a chance.”

The story of how Bel­gium’s golden gen­er­a­tion rose to the No.1 in­ter­na­tional team in the world is one of di­rect in­ter­ven­tion from their gov­ern­ing body and the league to make sure the clubs got more of the best young play­ers play­ing more of­ten.

Lukaku be­lieves that is the same rem­edy for Scot­land and sees green shoots of re­cov­ery in the de­vel­op­ment of play­ers like his former Manch­ester United team-mate Scott McTom­i­nay (in­set).

“Scott can be very im­por­tant for Scot­land but he is not the only one, I think you have a lot of good tal­ents com­ing through,” said Lukaku. “You have Ryan Fraser, who I like a lot, and also Oliver Burke – he was at West Brom and is a good player. He has a lot of pace. You just have to de­velop them and work hard, if you do that then things will im­prove.

“Bel­gium is a small na­tion but it all starts in the academy, you have to give play­ers a chance and also give them time to de­velop. Then, when the play­ers are ready to make the step to the big teams in Eu­rope they have to make the right choices. The clubs are help­ing them make those de­ci­sions, they are send­ing play­ers to teams where they can play a lot. You see the ben­e­fit of that.

“It wasn’t al­ways like this, when I started play­ing with the na­tional team only half of the play­ers were in their start­ing line-ups. “It takes time, you have to be pa­tient if you want to im­prove. We went through ups and downs be­fore we changed ev­ery­thing – the staff changed, we be­came more pro­fes­sional and we have had the ben­e­fits of that. We have con­fi­dence, be­cause we have had to work hard to get to where we want to be.”

Romelu Lukaku em­braces Scot­land cap­tain Andy Robert­son at full-time af­ter the Bel­gium striker scored in a 4-0 win at Ham­p­den on Mon­day

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