Scotland’s head coach, Steve Clarke, acknowledges having “mixed feelings” regarding the absence of Norwegian striker Erling Haaland in the Euro 2024 qualification on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Manchester City forward sustained an injury during Thursday’s friendly win against the Faroe Islands.
Scotland and Spain have already secured qualification for next summer’s finals in Germany and cannot be caught by third-placed Norway.
“For the spectators, it would have been enjoyable to see a player of Haaland’s caliber,” Clarke said.
“For the defenders, it would have been good to test their abilities against a top striker, but unfortunately, he is not fit.
“If this were a game that really meant something, I might be sitting here saying, ‘yeah, delighted he’s not playing.’ But for tomorrow’s game, I think it would be better if he played.”
The Norwegian Football Federation stated that Haaland’s ankle injury is “not serious.”
“He is in pain, and his body function is somewhat limited, so unfortunately, the Scotland game comes a little too early,” said national team doctor Ola Sand on the NFF website.
Scotland defeated Norway 2-1 in Oslo and is two points behind Group A leaders Spain heading into the final round of games. Spain hosts Georgia on Sunday, while Scotland and Norway face off at Hampden.
Georgia led Scotland twice but ultimately drew 2-2 in Thursday’s penultimate qualifier, while Spain beat Cyprus. The results on Sunday will determine Scotland’s seeding pot for the finals, either pot two or pot three.
“I haven’t looked at the seeding pots issue. It doesn’t concern me. The main objective was to be there,” Clarke added.
“Pot two, pot three – it’s all speculation because you don’t know how the other games are going to pan out. So, we’ll go out, we’ll do our best to win the game, and then we’ll decide after that whether we want to be in pot two or pot three.”
Billy Gilmour and Ryan Christie only played the opening 45 minutes in Tbilisi. Substitute Kenny McLean assisted in Scott McTominay’s first equalizer, with replacement Lawrence Shankland heading the second.
Norway will not call up a replacement for Haaland, who has scored 27 goals in 29 senior international appearances, including one against Scotland in June.