Russell Martin: Scotland still in race for World Cup 2018

Scotland's Russell Martin applauds the fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Trnava. Picture: PA
Scotland's Russell Martin applauds the fans after the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Trnava. Picture: PA
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Russell Martin insists Scotland are still firmly in the race of a World Cup qualifying slot despite their damaging 3-0 defeat by Slovakia.

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The Scots were looking to bounce back after Saturday’s draw at home to Lithuania but were stung by a Robert Mak double before Adam Nemec wrapped up a miserable night in Trvana when he headed home the third from a corner.

The result leaves Scotland fourth in Group F with just four points from three games, but defender Martin remains optimistic ahead of next month’s clash with England at Wembley.

He told Sky Sports 2: “If you look at the group, England only managed a draw, Slovenia beat [Slovakia] the other night so we’re three points off top of the group. It’s as simple as that.

“It’s such a tight group so we need to pick ourselves up.

“We have had two disappointing results. If we had beaten Lithuania at home it would probably have made tonight a little easier to take.

“We don’t want to lose any game and it’s frustrating. But we are well in with a shout. We need to try and make sure we get a result against England now.”

Slovakia struck after 19 minutes through Zenit St Petersburg ace Mak but the Scots felt they should have had a free-kick after striker Steven Fletcher was the victim of a clear barge by defender Jan Durica in the build-up.

“It’s tough to take,” admitted Martin. “The [first] goal hurt us a little bit. We probably should have had a foul in the build-up.

“But even then we bounced back in the first half. We could have done a little better in the final third.

“We came in at half-time full hope and felt we could get at them and press them a little higher - but then they went and got the second goal and it kills us.

“We were not good enough after that. They went and got a third one from a set-piece, which shouldn’t happen. It’s a disappointing night.”

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