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Naismith eyes winning run for Scotland

14 Nov 2013 02:16:53

Naismith eyes winning run for Scotland

Steven Naismith believes it is important Scotland continue their winning ways when they take on the United States in a friendly on Friday.

Scotland have the chance to record three consecutive wins for the first time in six years when they host the Americans at Hampden Park.

The fortunes of the national side have dramatically improved since Gordon Strachan was appointed manager, and they finished their unsuccessful World Cup qualifying campaign with wins over Macedonia and Croatia.

However, they will come up against tough opponents in the form of an USA side that has won 15 out of their last 16 matches on the way to qualifying for their seventh consecutive World Cup.

The Scots, who take on the USA before travelling to Norway for next Tuesday, will not have a competitive fixture until next September when European Championship qualification starts.

But Naismith believes getting positive results in the two friendly matches is vital to keep the feel-good factor surrounding Scotland continuing into their next qualification campaign as they bid to make the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1998.

"These games are important for our momentum," the Everton striker said.

"The squad is getting to the mid-to-late 20s stage and you have to be hitting your peak at some point and that has to come from now.

"We have started from a good base and it has got to continue. The results we have had have been brilliant. We have moved on a long way but the real test will be when the Euros start and we have to be ready for that.

"Yes, it was very disappointing that we couldn't qualify for Brazil. We don't want to be in a team that is one of the first to be knocked out of the qualifiers, so there is a lesson to be learned.

"There is a bit of wait until the Euro qualifiers begin and that is the disappointing thing for the squad and the manager.

"But overall, we have to keep this momentum going with good results. We have two tough games coming up that we need to be on song.

"They are not just friendly games, everything goes towards your ranking as well so there is always something to play for."

Gary Mackay-Steven and Craig Conway have been called up to the Scotland squad after James Forrest, Chris Burke, James Morrison, Allan McGregor and Shaun Maloney were forced to withdraw through injury.

However, Norwich City midfielder Robert Snodgrass and Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher, who both missed training earlier this week, should be fit to play a part at Hampden as Scotland look for revenge for last year's 5-1 mauling by the USA in Florida.

Former Rangers duo DaMarcus Beasley and Alejandro Bedoya are in Jurgen Klinsmann's USA squad, while English Premier League-based Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore are also included.

Klinsmann suffered a late blow when vastly-experienced striker Clint Dempsey was ruled out after straining his right calf in training on Wednesday.


AFP

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