Belfast Telegraph

Shaun Maloney is up for play-off push with Scotland

By Gavin McCafferty

Shaun Maloney admits Scotland are desperate not to come away empty-handed from their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Despite that the Hull City playmaker believes they can channel that hunger in a positive manner when they host Poland on October 8.

Defeats against Georgia and Germany have ended Scotland's hopes of automatic qualification from Group D and left their play-off ambitions out of their hands.

Scotland had earned praise for their previous efforts, coming off well in their games against main rivals Poland and Republic of Ireland and have equalised three times against Germany during the campaign, but defeat in Tbilisi, coupled with the Poles and Irish taking points off the world champions, means they are looking for favours ahead of the final two games.

"That's just the harsh reality of international football," said Maloney after the 3-2 home defeat by the Germans.

"We are desperate to get third place. There is a real hunger for it and we will do everything we possibly can to get the country there."

Scotland will clinch third if they win their final two games and the Republic of Ireland fail to beat Germany or Poland, in Warsaw. Scotland can also draw and go through - if Martin O'Neill's side lose their final two matches.

Maloney said: "We have to respect the Republic of Ireland are capable of getting a result in their home stadium. All we can do is try and get a result against Poland and obviously beat Gibraltar and see where it takes us.

"After the Georgia game, we wanted a huge improvement in performance and I think we did that.

"We've had a great run over the last couple of years and when we have the performance and result against Georgia we have to be honest and take the criticism."

Belfast Telegraph