Ryan Christie believes the Scotland squad has the “perfect” mix as it looks to take a giant step toward Euro 2024 against Cyprus.
Steve Clarke’s side have won their first four qualifiers to sit top of Group A, eight points ahead of Georgia and Norway and nine ahead of Spain, albeit the Spanish have only played two fixtures.
After thrilling wins, most notably away to Norway and at home to Spain, the Scots are looking to at least extend their unbeaten run to nine games in Larnaca on Friday, hoping to eventually reach a second successive European Championship finals.
Scotland then host England in a 150th anniversary match at Hampden and can qualify that night if results in the other group games go their way.
Talking about the team spirit and confidence in the camp, Bournemouth midfielder Christie, 28, said: “It is probably the perfect mix. I’ve never had it so perfect in any other club I have been a part of in my career.
“You can see it when everybody meets up and has a brilliant laugh with each other, but when game time rolls around or when we’re on the training pitch everybody’s completely locked in.
“So it’s just a nice feeling. I think it also helps when everybody’s meeting up and everyone’s just kind of sliding in again back to normal and ready to go again. It definitely helps and hopefully that will help on Friday.
“I think the togetherness is always spoken about a lot, but the belief and confidence we have within ourselves as a group now has never been higher. Obviously qualifying for the last Euros and when we had that kind of slip qualifying for the World Cup, we were desperate to bounce back from that. To be fair ever since that we’ve been right back on track.
“The group of boys we’ve got now, from experience right down to the young boys pushing in, everybody’s pushing in the same direction and starting to show.”
Christie believes the squad has benefited from the experience of qualifying for Euro 2020, the first time Scotland have reached the finals of a major tournament since 1998.
The former Inverness and Celtic player, who will win his 40th cap if selected in Larnaca, added: “Obviously qualifying for the last one, and I’m sure you guys (in the media) felt it too, was just like a massive weight off the shoulders, if anything.
“And up to that point, it felt like almost we were jinxed not to qualify for anything.
“So to get rid of that feeling was nice. It’s definitely gone. And now we need to now keep qualifying for these tournaments because we’ve got a good enough squad to do it.
“We know that so we put that pressure on ourselves from within. I think before the last Euros we qualified for there was a pressure externally as well for us. It feels like everybody’s together.”
Christie scored the first of his five Scotland goals in a 2-1 win over Cyprus in Nicosia in November 2019.
“Very good memories,” he said of that contest. “My memories are that it was tough to be honest. That’s my first memory.
“It’s easy for the onlookers or supporters to overlook Cyprus but, especially when you’re playing away from home against these guys, they make it so hard.
“That last game was a tough one. So we expect the same on Friday.”