Scotland midfielder John McGinn admits their summer defeats have ‘shaken’ their confidence.
The Aston Villa captain therefore believes Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Ukraine can provide an “invaluable” morale boost as they attempt to build on the progress made under Steve Clarke in recent years.
Scotland turned the tide against Ukraine after the World Cup play-off semi-final in Hampden in June with a performance that was just as dominant as that of their visitors.
Clarke introduced a change of formation for Wednesday’s Nations League game and his players delivered emphatically.
They will now look to reverse the 3-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland that came days after their Qatar hopes were ended.
McGinn, who opened the scoring, told the PA news agency: “The summer really hurt us. It hurt us as a group, especially with the progress we were making. It was a huge breach in our confidence, it certainly was.
“Once we got together, the manager made some things clear. We knew where we needed to improve.
“For us as a group, the belief and confidence that Wednesday night gave us was tremendous and it’s certainly priceless for us to move forward.”
Scotland are now top of Group B1 and drawing each of their last two games, against Stephen Kenny’s side and then Ukraine in Krakow, would be enough to seal promotion to elite level as well as a place among the second seeds for the Euro 2024 qualifiers next month. to draw.
“That was our ambition and I think it’s realistic,” McGinn said. “Obviously we have two very tough games ahead and it’s so important not to throw away what we’ve built up over the last few 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 regular major competitions.
“That’s our goal and if we achieve that it will be a big achievement for us and give us the best chance of getting into pot two for the draw.”
Scotland will need to get off to a quick start as their opponents had a midweek free 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 play games every three or four days, so it’s the one we’re used to.
“It doesn’t make it easy sometimes, but it’s a situation we’re used to. The older you get, the more you focus on recovery, gaining experience, recovering and moving on.
“I don’t think we’ll need any motivation for Saturday night, a game against Ireland at a quarter to eight under the floodlights. Adrenaline, if any, will push us through any kind of fatigue.
McGinn was speaking after he and fellow Scottish international Nicola Docherty took part in a fun football training session for children from Granton Primary School in Edinburgh at the Oriam National Performance Centre.
“It’s a really good initiative from McDonald’s, Fun Football,” McGinn said. “They’re going to have a million kids over the next four years playing football for free. We all know how tough times are at the minute, finances are tough for everyone at the minute.
“It’s great for me and Nicola to come and try to give something back and help promote what is a brilliant thing.”