Leigh Griffiths goes for max in Macedonia

Leigh Griffiths in action for Scotland against England.
Leigh Griffiths in action for Scotland against England.
3
Have your say

Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths has targeted maximum points from their final two group games as Gordon Strachan’s men bid to avoid finishing bottom in their World Cup qualifying group.

Scotland slipped to the basement of Europe’s Group A on Friday when Macedonia beat Wales 2-1 ahead of Belgium’s 2-0 victory at Hampden.

The Scots could still finish third but, with only Croatia at Hampden to come after facing Macedonia tomorrow night, they need to pick up a result in Skopje.

Griffiths said: “We want to get as far up the table as possible and finish the campaign strongly. We have only got two games left so hopefully we can get six points from them.

“We knew it would be a difficult game on Friday and we know it will be the same on Tuesday as well.”

Griffiths is looking to retain his starting place after a lively display against the Belgians, although his best work was done near the halfway line as Scotland struggled to support the Wolves forward.

The former Hibs player, who has scored four goals in as many matches for Wolves, said: “It was great to finally get my debut in Croatia and I managed to get on at Wembley and start on Friday as well, so I’m hoping that continues for a long time.

“I’m hoping to get game time, but that’s up to the manager to decide if he wants to start with me or put me on the bench and I can have an impact from the bench. But whatever team he puts out I’m sure we will do well.”

Griffiths was replaced by Jordan Rhodes midway through the second half against Belgium but the Blackburn Rovers forward is out of the Macedonia trip with a hand injury.

That leaves Nottingham Forest forward Jamie Mackie and Leeds striker Ross McCormack as competition for a place up front. Strachan also lost Charlie Adam, who was an unused substitute against Belgium, with a back injury.

Scotland boss Strachan was already without goalkeeper Allan McGregor and Hull City team-mate George Boyd; West Brom midfielders Graham Dorrans and James Morrison through injury, along with longer-term absentees Darren Fletcher, Gary Caldwell and Steven Fletcher. Also, Norwich winger Robert Snodgrass is suspended after his booking against Belgium.

Full-back Steven Whittaker, meanwhile, is determined to achieve some tangible results to mark the progress he believes is being made under Strachan.

Victory in Zagreb against Croatia in their most recent competitive away match gave Scotland hope of avoiding bottom spot and Whittaker is desperate to get a result tomorrow ahead of the final qualifier against Croatia.

The Norwich player and former Hibee said: “Obviously Macedonia is going to be a tough game but we believe we can go there and get a result and we have Croatia at home and hopefully again we can get momentum going into that game.

“I think we have played some good stuff the last few games, we are getting more positive and hopefully we can start creating chances and getting goals and results to match.

“We do that by working hard, listening to what the manager is trying to tell us and putting it out there on the pitch.

“We believe we have the players in the changing room to get the results, the performances have been there the last few games but we want the results to match that.

“We keep working to progress, we feel that we have done that under this new manager.

“As I said the performances have been there the last few games and we want to continue down that route but as a changing room we want to the results to be there as well and I am sure the fans do as well.”