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Stuart Armstrong eyeing strong start for Scotland under Steve Clarke

The Southampton midfielder says the squad still have belief after their slow start to the qualifying campaign.

Scotland’s Stuart Armstrong aims to make amends (Adam Davy/PA)
Scotland’s Stuart Armstrong aims to make amends (Adam Davy/PA)

Stuart Armstrong aims to seize the chance to make up for Scotland’s poor start to their European Championship qualifying group.

Scotland are playing catch-up after a 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan and a 2-0 win in San Marino proved insufficient to keep Alex McLeish in a job.

Steve Clarke has stepped in as manager and Armstrong believes they must kick off his reign with victory when they host Cyprus on Saturday.

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Steve Clarke is the new Scotland boss (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Southampton midfielder said: “It’s a home game, we need to put pressure on ourselves to win games. That’s what we are here to do.

“It was a very disappointing start, we don’t want to hide away from the fact that it was an unacceptable performance.

“It’s a great chance to make amends, albeit against a good team which we shouldn’t underestimate.

“But we must have belief in ourselves to go into the game with that level of excitement and enjoy playing football and get something from it.

“With the new manager coming in there is going to be that level of freshness and an element of change about the squad but we still have a lot of belief in ourselves.”

Armstrong goes into the double header against Cyprus and Belgium on the back of his first season in the Premier League following his move from Celtic.

After taking time to force his way into the Southampton starting line-up, the 27-year-old ultimately made 19 starts and came off the bench 14 times, scoring four goals in the process.

The former Dundee United player said: “It’s been an interesting one. Obviously changing teams is a big thing, it takes time to adapt and go into a different league, which is in a lot of ways very different .

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Stuart Armstrong scored four goals in his first campaign at Southampton (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“There has been a change of manager too so it’s been up and down, but what I’ve found playing football over these past years is that football is always up and down and you should never be too high or too low.

“I certainly think I have learned a few things, experiencing different types of games, more physical games, sometimes faster games.

“You have the privilege at Celtic to dominate games and we were winning more than we were losing. Sometimes down the road that’s not the case.

“Trying to learn from those experiences is something I am quite enjoying as a football player.”

PA

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