Steven Naismith has assured Gordon Strachan that he can rely on him as Scotland seek to secure a famous Wembley win that would resuscitate their World Cup ambitions.
The 30-year-old striker has endured a difficult period at Championship side Norwich City, where he moved from Everton last season. Without a league start for his club since August, he has been left on the bench for Scotland’s first three qualifiers after playing in nine out of ten matches in the last campaign.
But Naismith believes his track record of scoring against top-class opposition should count in his favour as Strachan, pictured inset, ponders his options ahead of tomorrow’s vital Group F clash.
Just one goal in their last two fixtures against Lithuania and Slovakia means Scotland are fighting for their World Cup lives against England. Naismith has urged Strachan to make use of his experience.
“In the last couple of meet -ups I know I have been on a hiding to nothing in terms of getting a chance to play because of my [club] situation,” said Naismith.
“Whereas this game is slightly different because there could potentially be a few changes and I just need to hope I do enough so the manager says: ‘aye, he’ll do for me’.
“Personally I definitely hope the manager looks at it and thinks I have done it in the past, especially at the start of the last campaign when I was [more] involved,” he added.
“Hopefully he will look at that and know ‘I can rely on him’.
“But another way of looking at that is that I would not be in the squad if he didn’t think that. So I just have to make sure I am ready – and I have done it enough times in my career to be ready.”
Although Naismith has scored just six times in 43 caps, this tally includes goals against Spain, Croatia and Poland. But they have counted for little in the final analysis. The striker has become sick of being identified as one of Scotland’s nearly men when it comes to qualifying for a major finals. He has grown tired of hard-luck stories.
“I don’t think it’s about luck,” he said. “There might be a small element of that but we can’t accept the hard luck story. It’s easy to say that because it has been and gone and it’s ‘Oh, we tried our best’. But we want to do better than that.
“Like at the Euros when you see everyone else going. We want to be there.
“Everybody is like that in the squad,” he added. “No-one saunters along thinking they are happy to be here. There is a drive to be there [at major tournaments].”
“I’ve been in so many games where it has been ‘Oh, unlucky’,” he added. “It’s crap at the end of the day.
“Holland at home, we played great. Get beat 1-0. Against Spain, the world champions, we concede in the last minute and lose 3-2.
“There have been so many games like that. Hopefully we are due one, like people say. We have been ‘oh so close’ so many times. It is about time that we do change. Against Spain, okay, I scored a great goal against a great team. But we got beat. Over my time in the international team, it has been like that for too long.”