GORDON Strachan’s Scotland squad have put next year’s summer holidays on hold, such is the strength of their belief that they will end the country’s 18-year absence from a major tournament finals.
Norwich City captain Russell Martin, who will anchor the Scottish defence in tomorrow night’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia in Tbilisi, has revealed that every member of the squad is refusing to contemplate the possibility of not being part of the tournament in France next June.
Martin believes he and his international team-mates have already shown they deserve to become the first squad to represent Scotland at a competition finals since the 1998 World Cup.
The 29-year-old insists Strachan’s men would enhance Euro 2016 both on and off the pitch, claiming the rejuvenated team would bring just as much to the tournament as their Tartan Army of followers.
“I’ve not booked a holiday next summer because I expect us to be in France,” said Martin. “I believe that 100 per cent and everyone in the squad would tell you the same.
“With the position we have put ourselves in now, we all expect to get there. It’s as simple as that.
“If we don’t get there, we will all be extremely disappointed but we are confident we have enough in the squad to do it.
“Scotland deserve to be at the finals and we certainly wouldn’t show ourselves up there.
“With the fans and everyone else feeling good about us at the moment, we deserve to be there. Whenever we go abroad, you see how much it means to the fans. In my opinion, we will add to a tournament with what we have in our squad now. With the whole country behind us, it will be pretty special.
“We would add to it as a squad, for sure, with what we’ve got. We’re desperate to show that now. We’ve put ourselves in a great position and we’re desperate to go out there and qualify and show what we’re about.
“We’re a proper team. We’re not about individuals, we don’t rely heavily on one person, we’re a proper team with togetherness and all of that.
“I think the people of Scotland enjoy watching us play, I’ve also had loads of people down the road in England giving us a lot of credit for what we’ve achieved recently in such a short space of time and the way we play and the way we approach games. Under this manager, that won’t change. So, hopefully, we can take it to a major tournament and show it there as well.
“We have got ourselves in a great position to do that. These two games, against Georgia on Friday and then Germany next Monday, will obviously have a big say in it. Everyone is just excited to get them done and see where we are.”
The onus on Scotland to ensure they are one of the 24 teams at next year’s expanded European Championship finals is accentuated by the likelihood that England, Wales and Northern Ireland are going to qualify.
Martin admits that the prospect of being the only home nation to miss out provides added motivation.
“Yes, 100 per cent,” he said. “I have players in my dressing room at Norwich who would be there with the other three nations. It would be great for them, but I want us to be there and I think we deserve to be there. It would be hard to watch if we didn’t, extremely tough. Hopefully it won’t come to that – if it did I would be extremely annoyed.
“Would I watch it if we didn’t qualify? I might choose a few games, but I would probably go on holiday and avoid it to be honest.
“If we don’t get there, we will all be extremely disappointed, but we are confident we have enough in the group.
“My missus is alright about the holiday situation next year, anyway. She will go and stay in France somewhere with the family.”
Scotland are currently third in Group D, three points behind leaders Poland and two points adrift of second-placed Germany. Those two meet in Frankfurt tomorrow, while the fourth-placed Irish take on group minnows Gibraltar.
“I’ve not thought about the permutations and what we might need to qualify,” Martin said. “At this level of football, if you look too far ahead you get caught out.
“The next game ahead is Georgia on Friday, simple as that. We can’t focus on any other game apart from that.
“You can work out who is going to do what elsewhere and stuff. But it doesn’t really matter. If we concentrate on what we can do, we will be fine.”