Naismith: Freedom key to Scotland’s resurgence

STEVEN Naismith believes Scotland’s recent resurgence is down to Gordan Strachan giving his players the licence to express themselves and the freedom to attack.

Scotland's Steven Naismith prepares for the national side's upcoming friendly against Nigeria. Picture: SNS

Scotland have won four and drawn one of their last five matches and are hoping to continue that encouraging run when they take on Nigeria in a friendly at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.

Naismith featured in all of those five matches, including an impressive 2-0 win over Croatia in October when he scored the second goal.

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“The manager has given us the freedom to go and play when we’ve got the ball rather than worrying about the opponents and what they’re going to do,” the Everton striker explained.

Scotland's Steven Naismith prepares for the national side's upcoming friendly against Nigeria. Picture: SNS

“We know what we need to do defensively but when we have the ball players are changing positions and making runs more now.

“That creates opportunities and we’re creating more chances.”

Scotland’s strong run has coincided with a strong season at club level for Naismith, who played a large part in Everton’s bid for the Barclays Premier League top four.

The 27-year-old made 36 appearances for the Blues in all competitions and while Roberto Martinez’s side just missed out on Champions League qualification, Naismith was pleased with the campaign overall.

“We were disappointed at the end of the season,” he said.

“But when you step back and look at it as a whole, it’s been a fantastic first season under the new manager who has come in and changed things totally.

“For me personally I was delighted with my contribution, especially in the second half when I played as many games as I would have liked while scoring goals and setting up chances as well.”

Martinez, like Strachan, has instilled a more attacking philosophy since his arrival at Goodison Park and both bosses have put faith in Naismith as a central striker.

“My form for Scotland and Everton came together at the right time,” Naismith said.

“I started playing for Scotland rather than being on the bench and then I started playing for Everton in the same position and in the same kind of way and that has definitely helped me.”