Ryan Jack benefiting from managers’ trust with club and country
Ryan Jack has hailed the twin efforts of Steven Gerrard and Steve Clarke that have allowed him to fulfil his Euro 2020 dream.
The Rangers midfielder was one of Clarke’s key men in Belgrade last week as they booked a place at next summer’s finals to end the Tartan Army’s 22-year stint in major tournament exile.
And Jack – a peripheral figure under previous Scotland boss Alex McLeish – admits he owes that to both his club boss Gerrard and his new national team manager.
“Since Steven Gerrard came in to Rangers, he has worked hard with me and showed me that trust and belief,” he said.
“And since I’ve first spoke with Steve Clarke he’s shown me the exact same trust and belief. As a player, that helps me a lot and helps to get the best out of me.
“The European games with Rangers always help because you’re playing against international players, so when you come away with Scotland you’re playing at the same level as you are at with your club and that stands you in good stead.
“Without a doubt this has been the best I’ve felt at international level. It’s the most regular that I’ve been in a squad and played for my country so I’m loving every minute of it.
“Steve Clarke has been absolutely excellent for me and the squad. We’ve got a great team spirit and everything is going well. We just want to continue that.”
Having nailed down a place at one major competition, the Scots can take a major step towards another when they face Israel in their final Nations League clash in Netanya on Wednesday.
A victory will secure top spot in Group B2 – and more than likely book one of two World Cup play-off places on offer for the finals in Qatar in two years’ time.
“It’s a big carrot for us as players,” added Jack. “If you want to compete against the best players in the world, then you’ve got to see this as a great opportunity.
“If we win tomorrow it could set us up to have big games against top players, so there’s a lot to play for.
“Is this game as big as the Serbia match? In some ways, definitely.
“The other night was huge but as players we’ve enjoyed that and we need to forget about it and move on because tomorrow’s game could be massive going forward into the future.
“The World Cup is huge as well and for us it’s about building on the other night, can we go get to another major tournament?
“That’s what it’s about for us. It’s not just getting to one major tournament, standing still and thinking we’ve achieved what we want. We want to be a squad who can get back-to-back tournaments and more success going forward.
“I’d say the two Israel games this year have been the toughest we’ve played over that period. Both were very close games and very tough nights, and that was them both staged at Hampden.
“So we’re in no doubt we’re in for another very tough match. But we do have that carrot that could help us going forward, so it’s a massive game.”