John Collins believes the Scotland squad will be happy to be written off before the tournament, as the title of underdogs suits the nation and will put fire into the bellies of the players representing the country at the Euros.  

The former Celtic and Scotland midfielder states that Steve Clarke’s side won’t face any pressure and can benefit from having little expectation bestowed upon them as they prepare for their first match against Czech Republic on Monday afternoon at Hampden.

He said: “I think it’s always good when you’re written off. That’s fine. We like to be the underdogs, and it can take away the expectation and that added pressure when everybody thinks you’re going to win, so I’m sure the camp are quite happy that some people are talking them down.

“Deep down, there’ll be a belief in the squad that they can cause the opposition problems, win matches and qualify so I think there’s a quiet confidence within the group.”

He added: “We won’t get carried away, but if we manage to get out of the group then who knows what can happen? It’ll be a successful tournament if we can get out of the group stages and then we can take things from there.”

Collins is under no illusions that the first game will be crucial in setting the tone for the side’s tournament and expects a tough game from the Czechs.

He said: “I think it’ll be a very close game. I’m hopeful that we can win the three points, but we’ll have to play very well and not underestimate them. They’re a good team, but I think we’re a good team as well and we’ve got players who are on form. I think there’ll be one goal in it either way.

“At this level, you don’t usually win games unless you play well, but we’re at home at Hampden Park in front of 12,000 people, so let’s hope that makes the difference. The players will be looking forward to playing in front of the fans, even if the stadium’s not at full capacity.”

Collins also outlined his starting 11 for the match and thinks Clarke will spring no surprises and go with the players who have helped Scotland reach the tournament.

He said: “I’d go with David Marshall in goal. Kieran Tierney, Liam Cooper and Grant Hanley as the three at the back. Andy Robertson on the left, and then Nathan Patterson on the right.

“In midfield, I think he’ll go with Scott McTominay, Callum McGregor and John McGinn, then Ryan Christie on the right and Che Adams up front.

“Andy Robertson is a hugely important player. He gets forward so much and delivers quality balls into the box to strikers.

“I think an important player is Che Adams. He gives us something different. Lyndon Dykes has done well in the qualifiers, but I think Adams is a different type of player who has pace, and he can link with others and go in behind defences. I’ve got a feeling he’ll have a good tournament.”

One player who many Scotland fans are keen to see used is Chelsea’s Billy Gilmore, and Collins believes he’ll get minutes on the pitch.

He said: “I think Stevie Clarke will use him. He might not start games, but he’ll be used. He played the friendly against Luxembourg and in a very short space of time he caught the eyes of those watching the game with his touch, movement and all-round game.

“I think Stevie will stick with his tried and trusted team next week, but there’s no doubt he’ll get game time in the tournament.”

While the Czech Republic match is arguably viewed as Scotland’s most ‘winnable’ match in the group, Collins is wary of the threat of Bayern Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick.

Collins said: “He’s a threat, he’s got a very good record at international level, scoring 11 goals in 26 matches. He holds the ball up and he’s got a good left foot.

“I wouldn’t say they’ve got superstar names, but they’re a good football team and play it out well from the back and through the lines.”

He added: “I think it’s very important to start with a win, three points would set us up well, and it takes away a little bit of pressure if you can get the points on the board and builds some confidence. Then it’s all guns blazing for the England game at Wembley.”

While Collins hopes that this group of players experience more major tournaments, he admits with Scotland it’s never clear where the next one will arrive, and his advice to the players is to make the most of the opportunity.

He said: “They should just enjoy it. You’ve got to appreciate it, and sometimes it can pass so quickly. It doesn’t get any better at the top of your game representing your country at a major final, so the players have to enjoy it as they’ve worked hard to get into the position that they’re in. I wish every single one of them the very best.”