Positive mental attitude for Scotland

Russell Martin believes Scotland could benefit from what he believes to be a cut-throat 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

The Scots begin their quest to reach Russia in two years’ time with an away match in Malta on Sunday.

Group F also contains England, who won all 10 qualifiers for this summer’s European Championships, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania with only the section winners guaranteed to qualify.

The 30-year-old Norwich defender predicts a tight campaign but knows Scotland have to do their own job.

“It is a group where teams will take points off each other,” he said.

“I don’t think there will be one runaway leader.

“Obviously people say England will be expected (to win) because they have been so strong in qualifying over the last few years but it is a strong group and teams will take points off each other.

“However, we need to pick up points consistently and make sure we are getting results and make sure that in 18 months’ time we have a chance of doing it.

“We go into it full of positivity. It is a fresh challenge, a new challenge.

“We are looking forward to it.

“You want to get off to a strong start. We are away from home and there are no easy games at this level but it is one we are looking forward to.”

The Scots were the only country from the British Isles absent from this summer’s Euros and Martin wants to use that disappointment as fuel for this campaign.

“I still think we should have been there,” he said.

“It was frustrating and it certainly drives you on.

“To be that close to it, it has to, you have to turn that hurt into something and create something out of it, and hopefully we will do that this campaign.

“Everyone looked at that group and saw how tough it was. We were one win away and that hurt all of us.

“I don’t think people again expect us to be there but maybe we are better like that, when people don’t expect it.

“We will have a right go, it’s as simple as that, like we did the last time.

“We came a little bit short hopefully this time we will take it all the way and do it.”

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