Hard work driving Scotland’s progress - Maloney

Scotland's Shaun Maloney during training. Picture: PA
Scotland's Shaun Maloney during training. Picture: PA
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Shaun Maloney admits Scotland lack outstanding individual talent but believes the team are more than making up for it with hard work and a collective sense of responsibility.

Scotland failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil but the Tartan Army face Nigeria in a friendly on Wednesday night, looking to extend an unbeaten run to six matches.

Gordon Strachan’s side face a tough test against Germany in their first European Championship qualifier on September 7 but four wins out of their last five games means there is room for optimism.

“I don’t think there is a player in our team that we can afford not to have working or tracking back,” Maloney said.

“Nobody is good enough to be a luxury player and I don’t think this manager would stand for that anyway.

“We’re taught all week exactly what he wants from us and then it’s up to us to apply that over the course of a match.”

Hip and back problems saw Maloney miss the majority of Wigan’s season and the 31-year-old was also absent for Scotland’s recent run of form.

“I was desperate to get in the squad, I’ve only played five or six games towards the end of the season so I’m not feeling fatigued and I’m just happy to be here,” Maloney said.

“It’s been brilliant - it’s five games unbeaten and there’s been a pretty big turnaround in terms of results.”

He continued: “Even the last time I was in the squad you could feel a change in terms of the belief and it’s carried on over the season.

“The manager works hard on the shape of the team and the time we spend with him in training is very tactical in terms of shape.

“The players go out there and know their job - the games I’ve watched and played under him for Scotland we’ve just been harder to beat.”

Nigeria are warming up for the World Cup where they have been drawn in Group F alongside Argentina, Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee believes Nigeria will be extremely motivated at Craven Cottage but is demanding another strong performance from his players.

“They’ll be in absolutely top form mentally - they’re going to a World Cup in Brazil, we wish it was us and we’re hugely jealous of that,” McGhee said.

“It’s really important that we maintain a level of performance.

“That’s one of the things that’s pleased me regardless of results - of course results are everything and they are going to be critical when it comes to qualifying for Euro 2016.

“But a consistent level of performance brings results so it’s important we end this season in the same sort of tone.”

He added: “If we play the same type of football against Nigeria with the energy and enthusiasm we’ve been playing with, I think we’ll get the right result.”