Kevin McDonald insists Albania is a must-win

Kevin McDonald. Pic: SNS
Kevin McDonald. Pic: SNS
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The dark clouds are gathering for Scotland after only one win and one goal in five games under Alex McLeish. A full-blown storm would ensue if Albania were to win the Nations League encounter at Hampden tomorrow. Midfielder Kevin McDonald doesn’t seek to play down that fact.

“There’s no hiding behind it, we need to win,” said the Fulham man, who won his second cap in the 4-0 flailing by Belgium on Friday evening. “We’re trying to build but we’ve played some tough friendlies against good teams that were at the World Cup. I understand there’ll be questions asked about the manager but Monday’s the main one. It’s up to us to go out and prove we’re capable of winning the group.

“No disrespect to Albania but they’re no Belgium. We’ve got to go in there confident, to put across our style of play and we’ve got to win, simple as that. I’m sure it’ll be pretty full and we’ve got to put in a good performance.”

McDonald perhaps needs a good performance more than most. The 29-year-old is now exhibiting his talents in the English Premier League after proving a central figure in the London club’s successful promotion push. He was deployed in the Scott Brown role on Friday and is not fazed at the onerous task of taking over from the now retired-from-international football Celtic captain.

“By the looks of it I’m in possession,” said McDonald. “We’ll see over the weekend, if I’m in the team on Monday then it’s my shirt to lose. Broony had a fantastic career with Scotland and it’s a big shirt to fill but one I’m confident of doing. I like to play football which is what the manager’s put me in there for. I tried my best to do that but we’ve all got to buy into that, we’ve all got to be looking for the ball. As an experience it was great to play against probably the second-best team in the world at the moment [in Belgium]. Sometimes you have to admire a bit of quality play from them, sometimes we’ve got to sit back and defend in our shape and we did that at times, but at other times we were a bit all over the place. That’s what we have to work on, it’s a new team, I’m sure the gaffer will look into that and we’ve got to learn.

“I’m a confident guy and I know if the team wants to play that way I’ll fit in well. I understand we’ve a lot of different options. Fortunately at Fulham we try to play football. It’s hard trying to put these boys together and trying to work something from the back, it’s different. But obviously for me, staying in the team would be great.”