Euro 2020: Billy Gilmour’s Covid absence gives Leeds United’s Liam Cooper and Scotland added motivation

LIAM COOPER says Scotland have been handed extra motivation to reach the knockout stages of the European Championship after losing key playmaker Billy Gilmour for tonight’s crucial Group D clash with Croatia.

SIDELINED: Scotland's Billy Gilmour (left) and Mason Mount battle for the ball at Wembley on Friday night. Picture: Nick Potts/PA
SIDELINED: Scotland's Billy Gilmour (left) and Mason Mount battle for the ball at Wembley on Friday night. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

The Chelsea midfielder is out after testing positive for Covid-19 forcing manager Steve Clarke to rethink his starting line-up after the 20-year-old earned UEFA’s man of the match award on his first international start during Friday’s draw with England.

The blow sparked fears that the Scotland squad might be decimated ahead of the Hampden Park clash with Croatia, which Scotland must win to retain hopes of progress.

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But the only team-mates of Gilmour’s affected are his Chelsea colleagues Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount.

Leeds United defender Liam Cooper in action for Scotland. Picture: Craig Williamson/Getty Images.

Scotland defender Cooper admitted news of Gilmour’s test had come as a shock, but vowed the players would do all they could to ensure their team-mate could still play a part in the latter stages of the tournament.

Billy has just announced himself on the world stage and now this,” said the Leeds United centre-back. “All I can say is that we are thinking of him. I have had Covid myself and I hope he stays symptom-free and he can recover as quickly as possible.

“I know it’s difficult but I have spoken to him and he is feeling OK. We just send our love to Billy and hope he recovers as quickly as possible.

“We are gutted for Billy but it gives us that little bit more motivation to go and do him proud and hopefully we can get the job done, get the win, and then we can start looking at the other groups as well.”

When asked if it had been a concern that Covid-19 had infiltrated the camp, Cooper said: “It was a shock to us. We stuck to the protocols and then this comes up.

“We just listen to the medical advice.

“Doc (John) MacLean has been clear and brilliant with us since day one. We have taken precautions around the training camp.

“We are gutted, I am sure he is gutted, but we have got to move on. We have a massive game and one we need to win, and that’s where all our focus lies now.”