James McFadden insists Scotland have to be confident they can reach the next World Cup.
Gordon Strachan’s side begin their qualifying campaign in Malta next Sunday, still smarting from the failure to qualify for the expanded European Championship.
Scotland, who have failed to reach the finals of a major tournament since 1998, face a much tougher qualifying criteria in a group which also includes England, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania, with only the winners guaranteed a place in Russia in 2018.
Speaking at a William Hill media event at Hampden Park, Motherwell’s player-coach, who has 48 Scotland caps, said: “We have to believe or else we would be as well not turning up.
“I have sat here as a player many times and said the same thing.
“We have to believe in the manager and the coaching staff and the players.
“As you say we need an injection of youth but there are a few players there who are maybe there saying: ‘This could be our last chance’… or one of the last chances for them.
“There has to be a time when we step up and take it to the teams in the group.
“We have to be confident we are going to win the group.
“It will be tough because there are some teams in it but we have to express ourselves and try to better what we did in the last group anyway.”
McFadden, who will forever be remembered by Scotland fans for scoring the winner against France in a Euro qualifier in 2007, knows the Tartan Army have to start on a positive note in Malta.
The former Everton and Birmingham player said: “It showed with Gibraltar in the last campaign when they levelled (before Scotland won 6-1) – we can’t take them lightly.
“We have to go and be professional and I am sure we will.
“It is important, no matter who you are playing, to get off to a good start.”