STEVE Clarke has pledged not to become embroiled in public slanging matches with pundits who are paid to criticise Scotland as he endeavours to resurrect the fortunes of the national team.

Clarke declined the respond to the comments former England and Liverpool player Jamie Redknapp made about his captain Andy Robertson as he prepared for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Russia tomorrow.

Redknapp said that Anfield left back Robertson was unable to perform at the same high level for his country as he did with the Champions League winners because he was playing alongside inferior team mates.

However, Clarke stressed he is focussing fully on halting the country’s three game losing streak in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and building up some much-needed momentum before the play-off matches next March.

The former West Brom, Reading and Kilmarnock manager admitted his charges’ chances of qualifying automatically for next summer’s finals are over following the defeats to Russia and Belgium at Hampden last month.

But he is keen for Scotland to do well in their remaining fixtures against Russia, San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhtsan ahead of the play-off games.

“If I go down the route of answering one pundit then I have to answer every single pundit who comes out with something that they’re paid to say,” he said.

“He (Redknapp) is a paid pundit, he’s got his opinion and Jamie also has a Liverpool connection so maybe he’s tried to protect Andy a little bit.

“So I’m not going to go down the route of talking about every pundit who has something bad to say about the national team. The only way to stop them saying bad things is to start winning games. I don’t hide from that fact.

“If I go down that route then the next pundit will see that I’ve had a little bite back. They’ll want to say something as well to see if they get a bite back because that raises their profile as a pundit. Pundits are paid to say what they say.”

Clarke defended Robertson’s performances for Scotland last week and stressed he has no concerns about his commitment to his country’s cause.

The one-time Liverpool assistant manager believes his skipper should be lauded for his complete devotion to the national team instead of castigated by former players.

However, Clarke has no concerns about the flak that his skipper has taken impacting on his displays going forward and is confident he will continue to lead by example.

“Andy is a big boy,” he said. “He doesn’t need protecting. Every time I name a squad Andy is the first to reply ‘when is it gaffer? I’ll see you there!’

“Andy takes a lot of responsibility on himself, the fact that he is such a high-profile player. He is the captain of the squad and he takes a lot on himself.

“He should be commended for that rather than criticised. He wants the team to do well and he’s determined to lead us to Euro 2020. That’s a great attribute to have from your captain and one of your key players.”