Andrew Robertson: I face tough battle to win Anfield place
The status of leading performer is pretty well cemented for Andrew Robertson in a Scotland context. Now his focus must switch to laying the same foundations at Liverpool. The first can help with the second for the full-back, who, against Lithuania last week, became the first player from the Anfield club to score for the country in a competitive international since '¨Kenny Dalglish.
Robertson’s £8 million summer switch to Jurgen Klopp’s side from Hull City has been celebrated as a source of national pride north of the border. Yet, however impressive his debut in red against Crystal Palace proved, the fact is that the 23-year-old has played more for Scotland this season than Liverpool – courtesy of the wins in Lithuania on Friday and at home to Malta on Monday which put Gordon Strachan’s men in with a fighting chance of making the play-offs for the World Cup.
Father’s pride in part accounts for that, with Robertson having missed the 4-0 dismantling of Arsenal last weekend to attend the birth of his first child. Now he is looking to nurture a club career in its infancy – starting with Saturday’s lunchtime visit to Manchester City that will be a test of the growing credentials of Klopp’s team as title contenders.
“It was good to get two 90 minutes under my belt this week and good performances as a team and personally,” Robertson said. “It will now be about going back down and preparing for a massive game against Man City.
“I just need to focus on recovery and, hopefully, I will be in the manager’s thoughts for the weekend. Of course, there is a lot of competition. Alberto [Moreno] has been brilliant this season and I think I’ve done well when I’ve had my chance. The lads have been playing well and we’ve not been beaten yet. Hopefully we can continue. The depth of squad is very healthy and we have added Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is a very good signing for us.
“It’s going to tough to nail down that left-back spot but the gaffer has made it quite clear with the amount of games we have there is going to be rotation. Even at this stage of the season, there have been two or three changes for every game. You have to be part of that, even if you don’t want to be sitting in the stand. I thought I played quite well against Crystal Palace but then I missed the Arsenal game due to personal reasons.
“The lads put in a good performance, so it will be hard to get in the starting XI but I will be going down to Man City and, hopefully, I will be in the manager’s thoughts.”
The manager is certainly thought highly of by Robertson. “Jurgen Klopp has been different class,” the player said. “He’s been brilliant with me. He has a laugh and a joke in the dressing room but he knows all the lads will fight for him. The lads all love him and he’s a very good manager. I’m confident I will improve under him and the coaching staff.”
That improvement can be Scotland’s gain. Robertson believes the position Strachan’s side are in – wherein a home victory over Slovakia followed by a win in Slovenia three days later would secure second place in Group F – was one “most people” thought impossible after taking only four points from their first four games.
The player acknowledges that England have played their part, too, with the Wembley defeat of Slovakia on Monday – achieved after going a goal down inside three minutes – required for Scotland to now be able to leapfrog the Slovakians, still a point above them.
“Obviously it’s a bit of a joke that no Scottish person wants England to win but they did their job, which we needed them to do,” Robertson said. “When I go back down I will be thanking the England boys at Liverpool for helping put it back into our hands.
“There wasn’t too much chat about it beforehand because we knew we had to get on with it and take care of Malta first. If we slipped up it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. We didn’t know what the score was down there. We heard the cheer and I guess that was when they equalised. At the end of the day, England are very good at home and they don’t often slip up in qualifiers. It looks that way again. But we still have our job to do.”
Robertson has exacting assignments ahead both for club and country.