Andy Robertson speaks on Liverpool injury, importance of one midfielder and Scotland's 'big week'

It seems odd to describe the return of someone who has only played one full game as pivotal to Scotland’s prospects but there is a definite sense of anticipation as Billy Gilmour prepares to win his third cap.

Skipper Andy Robertson has welcomed the return of the on-loan Norwich City midfielder, who he missed catching up with on the season’s opening day when Liverpool travelled to Carrow Road and won 3-0 in front of the watching Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

The injured Robertson has now recovered from the ankle injury that threatened to prevent him being involved in an international tripleheader that kicks-off tonight against Denmark in Copenhagen. Scotland’s hopes of being involved at next winter’s World Cup finals in Qatar hinge on the outcome of these games.

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It is almost certain that Gilmour will anchor the midfield alongside Callum McGregor as they did to such good effect in Scotland’s second Euro 2020 group game against England.

The news that Gilmour had tested positive for Covid-19 following the Wembley draw was a bitter blow and Scotland missed his ball-retention skills in the last game against Croatia, which they lost 3-1 to exit the tournament.

“It's great to have Billy back,” said Gilmour. “He's a fantastic player. He got man of the match against England at Wembley and then we lost him.

"That all happened really quickly but he's a fantastic talent. Billy is still young but he has an old head on his shoulders and it's about using that. We also have Kenny McLean back from injury and he gives us a fantastic option in midfield,” he added.

"Kenny has more experience and you also have Callum McGregor playing really well for Celtic just now.”

Robertson had the right to be a little miffed when his club manager described Gilmour as one of the best Scottish talents of the last 50 years prior to the Anfield side’s trip to Carrow Road last month. The full-back isn’t sure if Jurgen Klopp was including him alongside the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness in this group but the rush to get him back playing – he made his first appearance of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea – underlines his importance to Liverpool’s cause.

"I didn't ask the manager that but I am 27 now, so I think I am beyond being talked about as a talent – if I ever was one!” said Robertson.

"But look, Billy is fantastic. I completely agree with what the manager said about him. It's great that he's gone on loan to Norwich and hopefully he gets lots of games and learns even more. He will get better for that experience.”

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Robertson hopes both he and Gilmour can star on the greatest stage of all next winter in Qatar. Scotland currently lie second in Group D after three games but might need to earn an eye-catching win in Copenhagen or in Vienna against Austria next week if they are to stand a chance of qualifying. Robertson agreed that the coming six days could be the defining period when it comes to competing in the next World Cup. Scotland also have a must-win game against Moldova at Hampden on Saturday.

"When the fixtures came out, we looked at this run of games as being a big week," he said. "We are playing the top and second seeds away from home.

"But if you want to qualify from these campaigns you need to pick up points. So far, we have done okay.

"We have taken points from every game we have played but we it's only five.

"We wish it was more but it's not and now we need to put more points on the board. It's going to be a tough week, it'll be difficult, but we need to look forward to the challenge.

"We have played Austria at home and it was tight and tough.

"Denmark got to the semi-finals of the Euros and we know all about them, and how good they are. It will be a tough week but we need to take confidence from the last couple of months to go and get a result.”

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Robertson is happy to be back involved after fearing he might miss this crucial international window after turning his ankle in a friendly against Athletic Bilbao. Initially it was feared he might be out for months.

"I watched the footage back and it didn’t look great," he said. "I probably feared the worst the next day but luckily the scan came back and while there was obviously damage, I knew I was a quick heeler and I could knock time off the rehab.

“I’ve got fantastic physios at Liverpool that helped massively.

“I’m not one to accept injuries for what they are. I always want to knock time off it, to get back on the pitch and that was my focus, to get back as quickly as possible. Luckily I did that and I didn’t miss too many games.”

With so much at stake for club and country, he simply yearned to get back playing. “Of course, Scotland always drives me but the next game that was in front of me drove me to be honest,” he said.

“I knew the Norwich game was unrealistic. Before the Burnley game I felt as if I could have trained a couple of days earlier but I didn’t quite pass the tests I had to pass, so I was on the bench.

“Obviously Scotland is always something to drive you forward but that was too far away.

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“I felt in my head I was pretty safe for the Scotland games but it was about trying to get back as quickly as you can.

“I came back late to pre-season so then getting the injury was disruptive. In training I’ve just been trying to get my sharpness back. I played my first game last week but the more games I play the better I’ll be.”