Scottish midfielder John McGinn admits his summer defeats have damaged his confidence.
The Aston Villa captain therefore feels Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Ukraine could provide an “invaluable” morale boost as they look to continue the progress made under Steve Clarke in recent years.
Scotland turned the tables on Ukraine after their World Cup play-off semi-final at Hampden in June by producing as dominant a display as their visitors had achieved.
Clarke introduced a lineup change for Wednesday’s Nations League game and his players delivered emphatically.
Now, they will look to reverse their 3-0 defeat by the Republic of Ireland, which came days after Qatar’s hopes faded.
McGinn, who opened the scoring, told the PA news agency: “Summer really hurt us. It took a toll on us as a group, especially with the progress we were making. It was a big dent in our confidence, it certainly was.
“Once we met, the manager clarified a few things. We knew where we had to improve.
“For us as a group, the belief and trust that Wednesday night has given us has been huge and it is certainly priceless moving forward for us.”
Scotland now lead Group B1 and draws in each of their last two games, against Stephen Kenny’s team and then Ukraine in Krakow, would be enough to secure promotion to elite level as well as a second-place spot. seeded for next month’s Euro 2024 tie.
“It’s been our ambition and I think it’s realistic,” McGinn said. “Obviously we have two very difficult games ahead of us and it’s very important not to throw away what we’ve built up in recent years.
“But it’s our job to not only give ourselves the best opportunity to qualify for major tournaments, but also to give future generations the best opportunity to get Scotland into major regular competitions.
“That’s our goal and if we can do that, it will be a huge achievement for us and give us the best chance of getting into pot two for the draw.”
Scotland will have to go again quickly, while their opponents had a free midweek to prepare for the Hampden clash.
But McGinn said: “It’s a lot easier after a win. The turnaround is quick, but all the boys are playing at a high level. We’re playing every three or four days, so we’re used to it.
“It doesn’t make things easier sometimes, but it’s something we’re used to. The older you get, the more you focus on recovery, getting the experience, recovering, and going again.
“I don’t think we’ll need motivation for Saturday night, a game against Ireland at 2pm under the lights. Adrenaline, if anything, will push us into any kind of tiredness.”
McGinn was speaking after he and fellow Scottish international Nicola Docherty attended a Fun Football training session for Granton Elementary School children in Edinburgh at the Oriam National Performance Centre.
“It’s a very good initiative by McDonald’s, Fun Football,” McGinn said. “They will have a million children in the next four years playing football for free. We all know how tough times are right now, finances are tough for everyone right now.
“It’s great for me and Nicola to come and try to give something back and help promote what is a brilliant thing.”