Stake your Euro 2016 spot

Scotland players train in Warsaw ahead of their clash with Poland
Scotland players train in Warsaw ahead of their clash with Poland
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Scotland full-back Steven Whittaker believes tonight’s friendly with Poland as vital to the Scots’ preparations for the upcoming European Championship qualifying campaign.

Critics continue to question international friendlies, but Whittaker stressed that Scotland’s assignment in Warsaw tonight is crucial for players who wish to be part of the campaign for France in two years’ time.

National coach Gordon Strachan will experiment in certain positions and assess his options before the opening Euro 2016 qualifier with Germany in September. Scotland will have further friendlies later this year, but the 23-man squad which travelled to the Polish capital are in pole position to establish themselves as squad regulars.

“Friendlies are useful as preparation for competitive games. We can’t go straight into campaigns without having a little trial first. They are very important,” said Whittaker, the former Hibs and Rangers defender now with Norwich City. “Our manager might change personnel throughout the game, look at some other players, take the opportunity to do things. Obviously, he can’t do that in the qualifying games. There are definitely positives to be taken from friendly games.”

Whittaker is keen to seize his own opportunity tonight after falling out of favour at Norwich recently. “The manager wants us to be together as much as possible to get us ready for the next campaign. We need to take the opportunity to play this game,” he continued.

“Some players are playing at their club and may want to look after themselves a little bit with it being a friendly. For other players like myself, who aren’t playing, it is an opportunity to get some minutes. It is great for