Kieran Tierney admitted Scotland are on a big tournament “learning curve” and have to wise up quickly.
Boss Steve Clarke is facing criticism for long ball tactics, and losing the midfield battle against Croatia in their decisive defeat at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.
The Tartan Army exited the Euros bottom of Group D with just Callum McGregor’s goal to their name.
But the pressure of a three game group against quality opposition will serve their young squad well in coming years… if they can keep qualifying for tournaments including the World Cup in Qatar.
Arsenal star Tierney highlighted Scotland’s cautious, slow start against Czech Republic. Losing 2-0 was damaging, as well as needing to learn from the tense fine margins of group stage competition.
He said: “It was a big learning curve. We played against three amazing teams who have been in tournament football a lot more than us and have a lot more experience of games like the last one against Croatia.
“I think that showed. But the message the manager wanted to get across was, “This is not the end of this group of boys, it’s just the beginning of us qualifying for tournaments”. I am sure the boys will give everything to do that. We will all learn, for sure.
“In the last game, Croatia have been there before. The way they played, it was hard for us to get going. Luka Modric, especially, I think his performance was incredible. And as a team Croatia were magnificent.
“I think we’d have liked to get off to a better start in the tournament and it was an uphill battle from that first game. We can hold our heads up high with the effort and commitment.
“We never gave up, that’s for sure. We never gave up trying. Our effort was always there, no matter the score-line, no matter the minute.
“We did our best to make the fans proud. But it wasn’t to be. It’s just the beginning of us qualifying for tournaments more and more and giving the fans more to celebrate and cheer for and I’m sure the boys will give absolutely everything to make the fans and the manager proud in the future.”
Scotland’s World Cup qualifying campaign has got off to a slow start with draws against Austria and Israel, but a win against the Faroe Islands. Scotland’s next opponents Denmark top Group F with three wins, and they’ll need to be on top form in September.
Skipper Andy Robertson has called for them to regroup ahead of the Autumn qualifiers saying: “The squad has a lot of potential and it’s important we build on this.”
But former skipper Graeme Souness says tactical improvements have to be made. “I think we went too long at times. I’d have taken a striker off, tried to get a bit more possession in midfield and build from there.”
Clarke will hold a review, and admitted everyone has to improve “including the head coach.”
Clarke added: “We certainly had enough shots, we created enough chances. The players will get better and better at it. Lyndon Dyke’s a relatively new international player, Che Adams is the same, so we can improve on it.
“Kevin Nisbet will get better the more he is involved and we have got players who can score goals from midfield as Callum showed. Listen, we have to get better at everything, we also conceded a number of goals in the tournament that I think were preventable.”