Belfast Telegraph

Milestone man Naismith blasts Scots record


Euro vision: Steven Naismith
Euro vision: Steven Naismith

By Gavin McCafferty

Steven Naismith never thought he would get close to 50 international caps - but he expected to qualify for major tournaments with the players Scotland have had at their disposal.

Naismith will reach a half century of appearances if he takes to the field against Russia in Scotland's fifth Euro 2020 qualifier tomorrow night.

But the only accolade the 32-year-old Hearts forward is really concerned about is becoming one of the first Scotland players to make a finals since 1998.

On the prospect of a 50th cap, he said: "It would be a great honour. I don't think that's at the front of my mind in terms of where we are at and where I'm at personally.

"It would be something I would probably look back on and scratch my head to say, 'How did I manage that?'

"Even to get into your 40s in terms of caps, that was something I never really thought I could achieve.

"You get to 25 and kind of lose track of it and before you know it you are nearing 50.

"Personally, great achievement, but the biggest desire is for us to make a tournament. That would go way beyond the 50-cap mark.

"For me having been through a fair few campaigns, you feel as if you owe (the fans) because we have under-achieved in the previous campaigns so you are desperate to do it.

"I know how close we are, we have a very good pool of players who are playing at their peak in a great league, England and abroad. We just need to believe it and go out and show it on the park.

"The competition for places is there, the manager has a clear plan and is meticulous, so we are taking the right steps."

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