Chris Martin: Leigh Griffiths can keep Scotland dream alive

Chris Martin came on as a late substitute against England. Picture: PAChris Martin came on as a late substitute against England. Picture: PA
Chris Martin came on as a late substitute against England. Picture: PA
Chris Martin has admitted he fears Harry Kane's 93rd-minute equaliser at Hampden last Saturday will come back to haunt Scotland when the final World Cup qualifying equations are made later this year.

But the burly striker is clinging on to hope that Leigh Griffiths’ spectacular emergence on the international goalscoring stage could yet propel the Scots to the sequence of results they require to progress beyond Group F into the play-offs. Martin played his part as a late substitute against England, his robust approach helping to earn both free-kicks which Griffiths dispatched beyond Joe Hart to give Scotland a 2-1 lead.

Amid the disappointment of Kane’s dramatic intervention to deny Gordon Strachan’s squad all three points, most of the Scotland players followed a party line of insisting it was not a fatal blow to their prospects of making it to Russia next summer.

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Martin, however, was prepared to face the reality of a result which leaves him and his team-mates with no margin for error in their final four games against Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.

“In the context of the group, it might end up costing us,” said the 28-year-old Derby County player. “It’s going to be a tough one. We need a little while to analyse it. It’s still very raw right now. Hopefully we can build on what we did on Saturday, because we were ever so close to winning. There are going to be a certain number of people on the other side of that view, saying that we should have seen it through and that we should be disappointed, but the only option for us now is to try to learn from it and move on positively. We have to look at ourselves and agree that we should have seen that through. There were only a couple of minutes to go after Griff made it 2-1. We broke from their free-kick but, unfortunately, they put it back in the box and managed to score. It is a bit of a tough one to analyse. We are all disappointed that we weren’t able to see it through after coming back from 1-0 down. I don’t know if we can analyse it as two points dropped right now. We will just take that game at face value and say it’s disappointing to not hold on to all three points. We have got four games now and they are all winnable, so we need to go into them with the mentality that we can win them all and see where we go.”

Martin may have been displaced by Griffiths as first-choice striker in Scotland’s last two games but he has nothing but praise and admiration for the Celtic man. “I know the quality he possesses, especially with his finishing and his free-kicks,” added Martin. “He’s got a hell of a left foot on him. His all-round contribution was very good against England, the way he was putting himself about, holding the ball up, bringing people into play, the runs he was making in behind. It’s something he can build on now. He’s scored his first goals for Scotland and hopefully he can continue to score goals and fire us to qualification.”