Mark McGhee: Robert Snodgrass can fill Scott Brown void

Snodgrass netted a hat-trick in Scotland's win over Malta. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Snodgrass netted a hat-trick in Scotland's win over Malta. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Scotland assistant boss Mark McGhee has backed Robert Snodgrass to drive Scotland’s World Cup dream forward in the wake of Scott Brown’s retirement.

Hull playmaker Snodgrass shrugged off two years of injury hell to fire a hat-trick in the Dark Blues’ opening qualifier for Russia 2018 against Malta last week.

The 5-1 drubbing was the Scots’ first match since former skipper Brown hung up his armband after deciding to concentrate on his Celtic career.

Snodgrass was overlooked for the role as manager Gordon Strachan opted to return the captaincy to Darren Fletcher.

But McGhee believes Snodgrass’ leadership qualities will ensure he plays a central role for the Scots throughout their Group F campaign.

The Motherwell boss, speaking as he helped launch the public sale of tickets ahead of next month’s Hampden clash with Lithuania, said: “He’s a fantastic character, a genuinely nice guy.

“He’s a bit of fun so he lightens up the camp as well, but when it comes to the business end, he’s right there.

“With the retirement of Scott Brown, we needed one or two to step up and fill his void, because he was tremendous in the last campaign. Snoddy looks like one of the ones who’s going to do that.

“As he showed in the second half against Malta, he can not only play but also score goals.

“He has a leadership, a drive about him that influences others and that’s going to be really important in the absence of Scott Brown.”

Strachan’s side got off to a flying start in Ta’ Qali as a second-half goal glut handed them a comfortable win over the Maltese.

But his number two admits Scotland will have to go up another gear when the Lithuanians visit on October 8.

“The win over Malta is only a starting point,” he said. “We will take the good out of it but we also know we will have to play even better than we did against Malta to beat Lithuania.

“We’re going to have to earn the win more than we did last time. Patience may be the key because we are unlikely to beat Lithuania by five goals.

“They will be determined, fit and hard to break down. They are likely to sit in a bit but will be capable on the counter so we will have to be vigilant.

“We always do a lot of due diligence on our opponents. We watch a lot of video so we can understand their team and their individuals, then we give as much of that information to the players as we can.

“We will be prepared for Lithuania then it is up to the players to take that out and perform as well as they do for their clubs.

“We felt we could take a risk in the Malta game with the starting line-up and system in order to find things out about people. This time, we will start with the team that is right for the 90 minutes and not, to a degree, to find out about players.”

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