Strachan says it is not a must win

Gordon Strachan is not putting Scotland’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on Friday night into the must-win category.

The Scots have four Group F fixtures left but are six points behind leaders England, four behind Slovakia and three adrift of Slovenia.

To most people those figures mean Scotland have to win all their remaining games if they are to have a chance of reaching Russia.

However, Strachan, who lost midfielder Darren Fletcher to a knee injury before the squad left for Vilnius on Thursday, insists 10 points could still keep them on the road to next summer’s finals.

Ahead of the match at the LFF Stadium, when asked if Scotland’s task was simplified by the need to win, he said: “You don’t just have to win the game.

“If you get a point and you win the next three games, then that is 10 points.

“You couldn’t tell me 10 points couldn’t do it. That is why it isn’t a must-win.

“We are going to try and play like it is a must-win, but play it in a way where we don’t try and win it by being silly and you lose it.”

The former Celtic boss believes preparation will be the key.

He said: “It all starts as soon as they meet, the first minute you meet them. There is psychology to it, there is training, information that you pass on.

“There is not going to be a Churchillian speech that makes them feel any better.

“That can work now and then, but, in general, you make sure the players are prepared, they feel comfortable, the amount of time they put into it, the training, the information you give them about the opposition team.

Left-back Andrew Robertson insists there is no issue with belief in the squad, especially after the 2-2 draw with England at Hampden Park in June which followed the 1-0 home win over Slovenia in March.

The Liverpool defender said: “All the players, coaching staff and backroom staff and, after the last couple of performances, the fans have got their belief.

“The fans were magnificent against England and by all accounts they are heading over here and if they can get behind the boys that can give us an extra lift and one that can hopefully can see us to victory.

“It is not too late. We have four games left, we are looking to get maximum points and if we do that we will see where we stand.

“If it is not enough we will look at it then but we are trying to qualify.”

 

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