Andy Robertson insists Scotland cannot allow the emotional aspect of facing war-torn Ukraine to affect their mindset ahead of next week’s World Cup play-off.
The two nations meet on Wednesday in a semi-final which was delayed from March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February.
While there is sure to be a groundswell of worldwide support for Ukraine as they play their first competitive match since the war began, Scotland captain Robertson believes it is essential that he and his colleagues do not allow sympathy on a human level for their opponents to extend into the match itself.
“For us as players and the manager, it’s bizarre with the situation around it,” the Liverpool left-back told BBC Sport. “We’ve helped Ukraine as much as possible in terms of (agreeing to postpone the game) March, and now June.
“We’ve given them as much (time) as they’ve needed and no question’s been a bad question or anything like that. We’ve helped them as much as we can but come Wednesday night, we have to be ready to battle, to fight for our dreams.
“We got a feeling of being in a major tournament (at last year’s Euros) and we need to try and separate that (emotion of the Ukraine conflict).”
Robertson admits he would be supporting Ukraine if they were playing any other nation but is adamant maximum professionalism must prevail within the Scotland squad.
“We’ll be so receptive of Ukraine before and after the game but during that 90 minutes, that 120 minutes, or whatever it takes, we have to be ready to fight for our dreams as well,” he said.
“We’ll make sure that that’s the message. I can’t imagine what they (Ukraine’s players) are going through, but we have to be ready to battle. As players, we want to go to a World Cup.
“Probably everyone in the world wants Ukraine to win. If it was any other country, I would probably want them to win but unfortunately they’re playing against my country and we have to stand in their way.
“We know they’ll be up for it and we have to be ready for that challenge. They’ll be full of emotion and it’s important we deal with the occasion well and that our fans make an atmosphere that is supportive and as loud as Hampden’s been.
“If we do that, it gives us the best possible chance to try and achieve our dream.”