STEVE Clarke reluctantly accepted Arsenal’s request not to select Kieran Tierney for the forthcoming double header against Cyprus and Kazakhstan – but insists he will do everything in his power to ensure he has his all his best players available for the make-or-break Euro 2020 play-offs in March.

While Tierney has managed to get half a dozen matches under his belt after the early season hip injury he was suffering from at the time of his £25m move from Celtic, Gunners manager Unai Emery has asked that he stays with them this month to deal with another unrelated injury concern.

While international managers have it in their power to invoke Fifa’s five-day rule if they feel the player is fit to play - making him unavailable for any club action within that period - Clarke has decided against pursuing that route but would dearly love to have him available in five months’ time, when Scotland face two play-off matches which could take them to their first major finals in 22 years. He admitted it was “frustrating” that he still hasn’t been able to work with the player, a former captain of his country, since taking over in May.

“Kieran has got an issue that Arsenal want to deal with in the next international break,” said Clarke. “Arsenal have requested that we didn’t select him. So that’s where we are with Kieran.

“I’m sure it’s a shame for Kieran as well,” the national team boss added of a player who to date has represented his country on 12 occasions. “I’m sure he wants to be here and be a part of it. Hopefully he can get over the injury issues that he’s got and be available in the future. That is the most important thing.

“Was Arsenal’s request a surprise? In modern football, probably not. But he has managed to play a few games recently, so they are obviously managing the situation.

“They feel that they can address the situation better in the international break. I would imagine that that is why they have requested that we don’t select him.

“If the clubs see their players and insist that they are not fit, then you can’t select them. That is my understanding of the situation. But, obviously, come March, I’d like to have the strongest squad possible. And this is still a strong squad."

Other headlines in the squad Clarke named for the matches against Cyprus and Kazakhstan on the 16th and 20th of this month respectively were the injury enforced omissions of defenders Charlie Mulgrew and Stuart Findlay. Liam Cooper and Scott McKenna return in their stead, with a fit-again Steven Naismith back up front and Johnny Russell dropping out.

“I’ve got to concentrate on the group of boys I’ve got for this one, and make sure that we pick up good points," said Clarke. "It is what it is. I’m not going to start moaning or groaning about it. My job is to try to get 25 or 26 players who turn up regularly to train and are committed to doing their best for their country. And we’re getting towards that.”