Alex McLeish wants Scotland to play a smart game in Israel tonight and take a big step towards the Uefa Nations League play-offs.
The Scots will bid to make it two wins out of two in Uefa’s new competition which has, as its ultimate goal, a prized place in the European Championships.
Having already seen off Albania at Hampden in the opening tie, McLeish’s men know that succeed in the Middle East tonight and they will be odds-on to finish top of Group C1, thus staying in the mix for one of the extra spots at Euro 2020.
“It is a big chance,” said McLeish. “We know the rewards of this particular game.
“The other teams will be thinking they’ve got a great chance as well because we are bracketed at the same kind of level.
“We had a good result in the first one against Albania. We don’t go into this game thinking it is going to be easy, though.
“We have to give the opposition respect and the way we do that is by being at our top level performance-wise.
“There has always been a mental factor to football when you go away from home. We have to be proactive and clever.”
Leigh Griffiths’ surprise decision to withdraw from the travelling party heading to the Middle East means Steven Naismith will again lead Scotland’s attack at the Sammy Ofer Stadium.
The controversy surrounding Griffiths’ absence will ensure the spotlight shines brightly on the Hearts man but the national team boss has backed him to handle the pressure.
He said: “It’s a really great challenge for him. I think Steven has come back to the squad with aplomb.
“He chose not to come during the summer because of a heel injury.
“I discussed it with him and said if you start the season at a good level then I always consider you as I’ve always liked Steven Naismith as a player.”