Barry Bannan always believed Scotland could battle back

Barry Bannon said: 'To qualify for a World Cup would be brilliant.' Picture: John Devlin
Barry Bannon said: 'To qualify for a World Cup would be brilliant.' Picture: John Devlin
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Patience reaped its reward on Thursday night, for everyone who spent 88 minutes waiting for a winning goal to keep the Russia 2014 flame flickering, and for the likes of Barry Bannan who has spent the past year on the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity.

In the enforced absence of Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong, the Sheffield Wednesday player was asked to fill the void and help ensure Scotland got the victory needed to push for a play-off place.

It was the 27-year-old’s 25th cap but his first involvement since the national team slipped up at home against Lithuania in October last year to undermine the entire campaign. But Scotland and Bannan have recovered their footing.

“I played the first three games and results didn’t go to plan so obviously there were going to be changes and the boys who have come in have done really, really well and we’ve had great results so you’ve got to wait your turn. If people are performing, you have got to wait your turn and keep going.

“I didn’t know I was going to be playing tonight, but players got injured. That was unfortunate for them, but fortunate for me. You’ve just got to be ready because you never know when you’ll be needed.

“For me to start in such a big game is brilliant, but what I’ve been doing in training, how I react to not playing, how I keep working hard and showing him what I’m all about, I probably deserved to play.”

The win took it’s time to materialise, with another late, late goal required, but patience has become a theme for this campaign. Waiting and hoping is something the nation has grown adept at in the two decades since the last appearance at a major tournament, but this time the squad have made it to within touching distance of a play-off place at the very least, and Bannan believes the yearning could finally be over.

“It would be the best achievement I’ve had in my career,” he said. “Slovakia was one of the best feelings I’ve had for a while, so to qualify for a World Cup would be brilliant.

“But it’s going to take another massive effort, bigger even than Slovakia. It’s going to take a lot to go over there and get another result. But we’re quietly confident we have enough in that changing room to go over there and get the three points.

“We’ve got players who are winning every week at their clubs and playing really well. There are a lot of players whose confidence is sky high and it’s showing when we go away. We went to Lithuania, which could have been a banana skin, and we controlled the game from start to finish. That’s to do with the confidence and the fact we’re going into games with that winning mentality now.”