Bullish Jamie Mackie adamant he can fill Scotland’s scoring void if granted the opportunity
JAMIE Mackie spent almost as many minutes speaking to reporters at Hampden on Saturday as he did on the pitch.
The message he was desperate to get across during both assignments was the same, that he is the man who can get the goals Scotland already desperately require when they return to action tomorrow night.
The QPR player was introduced with just nine minutes remaining of the dispiriting World Cup Group A opener against Serbia, his lively presence alongside fellow substitute Jordan Rhodes proving too little and too late to alter the course of the 0-0 draw which puts Craig Levein’s squad on the qualification back foot already. The debate over Scotland’s striking options, in the wretched absence of £14 million man Steven Fletcher, has largely focused on whether the emerging Rhodes should replace the veteran Kenny Miller as Levein’s first choice front man. But Mackie is confident he has the credentials to fill the role successfully if he is handed a place in the starting line-up against Macedonia tomorrow night.
“I hope I have given the manager some food for thought,” said Mackie. “I wasn’t on for very long but I’m sure he knows what I can do anyway. If I ever get the nod, then I’m more than ready. I feel sharp and I’m sure I’ll take my chances. It’s not for me to decide how much time I get on the pitch, I’m not the manager. I’m ready to come on at all stages but it’s not down to me. The longer you get on the pitch, the better, but it’s not for the players to make those decisions. We have a strong squad and while everyone wants to start games, if you are on the bench you have to have a positive impact when you are called upon. I enjoyed coming on up front and we nearly carved out a few opportunities in the end. We have another game on Tuesday night and we’ll see if I get another chance. That’s always been my outlook if I’m on the bench. I’ll make sure when I do come on that I do everything I can to make an impact. Of course, I would love more game time. We have a competitive squad now in terms of getting a place in the starting line-up and that’s the best thing for the country. Whoever gets the nod, we’ll all be right behind them and willing them to do well.”
Having been sidelined by a double leg break shortly after making his encouraging breakthrough into the Scotland squad two seasons ago, 26-year-old Mackie is determined to play a sustained and influential role in the 2014 qualifying bid. “I was out for 10 and a half months with injury after I made my debut for Scotland and I definitely want to make up for that lost time,” he added. “Since then, I’ve come back and scored goals for QPR and had a good season in the Premier League. Now there is a whole campaign with Scotland to make up for the time I missed and I’ll make sure I’m sharp and ready for the Scotland games. It goes without saying that we need to win the Macedonia game now. It’s a long campaign but we know the home games are going to be very important. We have got a point on the board, although we all believed and hoped we could have got a win.
“So it is crucial that we do get all three points on Tuesday night and see what the table looks like at the end of Tuesday night. I watched Belgium’s win against Wales on Friday night and they are obviously a strong outfit, with players of vast expense and experience. Belgium are going to be tough, the rest of the games will be fairly equal. After playing Serbia, I think we can go into the away game against them next year with more confidence that we can and should be beating teams like them.” While Mackie has no doubts about the importance of taking maximum points tomorrow night, Robert Snodgrass believes the competitive nature of Group A means there will still be sufficient leeway for Scotland regardless of the outcome against Macedonia. “It’s a long campaign and I don’t think Macedonia is a must-win game,” insisted the Norwich City wide man. “It’s too early to get desperate. The draw against Serbia puts a bit of pressure on us for Tuesday but the gaffer will pick the best side to win that match. I thought we did really well in stages against Serbia and we could have won if the chances had gone our way.
“There will be many twists and turns in this competition. Belgium and Croatia have won already but we’ve still got to play them. You can see how far we’ve come. Serbia are 20 places above us in the rankings and you would have thought it was the other way around at times so there are positives to take.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West