Steven Whittaker encouraged by Scots’ improvement

Steven Whittaker in action for Scotland against Belgium. Picture: SNS
Steven Whittaker in action for Scotland against Belgium. Picture: SNS
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SCOTLAND are looking to get off the bottom of Group A tomorrow night when they face Macedonia, who drew at Hampden in the second match of Scotland’s campaign when Craig Levein was in charge.

And full-back Steven Whittaker is determined to achieve some tangible results to mark the progress he believes is being made under new manager Gordon Strachan.

Victory in Zagreb against Croatia in their most recent competitive away match gave Scotland hope of avoiding bottom spot but Macedonia’s win over Wales on Friday, coupled with the Belgian defeat, means Whittaker is desperate to get a result tomorrow ahead of the final qualifier against Croatia. The Norwich player said: “Obviously Macedonia is going to be a tough game, but we believe we can go there and get a result and we have Croatia at home and hopefully again we can get momentum going into that game.

“I think we have played some good stuff the last few games, we are getting more positive and hopefully we can start creating chances and getting goals and results to match.

“We do that by working hard, listening to what the manager is trying to tell us and putting it out there on the pitch.

“We believe we have the players in the changing room to get the results. The performances have been there the last few games and we want to continue down that route but, as a changing room, we want the results to match that. I am sure the fans do as well.

“We keep working to progress. We feel that we have done that under this new manager.”

Despite their disappointment over the defeat, Whittaker feels Scotland can take some encouragement from their performance against Belgium, who scored their second goal through Everton midfielder Kevin Mirallas in the 88th minute.

“We all feel it the same as everyone else but the manager is stressing that we need to take the positives from the match,” the 29-year-old said.

“There were lots to be happy about in that performance and that’s what we will try to take from the game. Nobody likes getting beat but, hopefully, we can take the positives and move on to Tuesday night.

“We had good spells in the game but it didn’t quite work out for us when we got closer to the goal.” Whittaker had his own personal disappointment on Friday when a heavy touch left him exposed as Marouane Fellaini’s pass down the right for Kevin De Bruyne allowed the Chelsea winger to set up Steven Defour for a 37th-minute opener.

The former Rangers player has been playing in his normal right-back position for Norwich but Alan Hutton is keeping him out of that role for Scotland as he continues on the opposite side of defence for his country.

“It is obviously not my favoured position but, if I am picked, there I will try my best,” he said.

“I always do that. It is not ideal being a right-footer on the left side of the park but I will adapt to that as best
I can.”