National captain Andy Robertson has urged Scotland to use their Euro 2020 pain to drive the bid for World Cup qualification.
As Scotland ready to face Group F leaders Denmark away on Wednesday, Robertson revealed failing to progress beyond the Euro group stages continues to eat away at him.
Wounds from that Euro exit when losing 3-1 to Croatia are still raw for the left-back – and he will use that disappointment to drive the bid to reach the World Cup finals in Qatar next year.
Having tasted the Euros the full-back is hungry to return to the halcyon days of the seventies to nineties when Scotland regularly qualified for major tournaments.
Ahead of a World Cup triple header that also takes in Moldova at Hampden on Saturday and Austria away on Tuesday, Robertson insists he is up for the ‘fight’ to lead Scotland to the World Cup .
Robertson said: “It (Euro 2020) needs to play on my mind and the minds of all the players and coaches to drive us forward.
“We were 90 minutes away from making history by becoming the first team to qualify out the group.
“But we didn’t manage that.
“The day after it was all quite raw and the feelings we all had were very similar.
“Reflecting on that game, credit has to go to Croatia – that was the best team we played in the group. Obviously England have quality but we really did perform against them.
“We gave it everything we had and I look back on it with pride, being able to represent the country at a major tournament.
“But it’s in the past now and we’re looking forward.
“It’s about being involved in the next tournament and trying to be involved in that.”
Robertson wants more after Euros
Scotland ended more than a two decade wait by qualifying for the Euros with the previous participation at a major final the 1998 World Cup.
Robertson, a Champions League, Club World Cup and Premier League winner with Liverpool, wants the Euros to be the first of many tournaments for this squad.
He said: “The majority of this squad has now experienced playing at a major tournament.
“The feeling around it, the three or four week build up, the way the whole country got behind us, everything we felt in that short space of time – we want more of that.
“We don’t just want to experience it once.
“We want it more and more and it’s up to us to do that.
“It’s up to us to compete in these qualifying campaigns and qualify with whatever means necessary.
“Look, it’s always a tough task but we’re up for the fight and giving it a right good go and hopefully we can get to more tournaments.
“We’ve obviously been to the Euros, we’d love to get to a World Cup, we’d love to get to more Euros.
“We don’t want it to be every 20 years to get to a tournament. We want to make it a bit more regular.
“We’re the ones in control of that and it’s up to us on the pitch to see if that can happen or not.”
Pivotal week for World Cup hopes
Only the group winner secure automatic qualification for the World Cup with runners-up dropping into play-offs.
Euro 2020 semi-finalists Denmark top the group with three wins from three to open up a four point advantage over the second placed Scots.
The away trip to Austria, who held the Scots 2-2 at Hampden in March, is also a pivotal clash in the qualification campaign and Robertson accepts this is a week that will make – or break the World Cup dream.
He said: “When the fixtures came out, we looked at this run of games as being a big week.
“We are playing the top and second seeds away from home.
“But if you want to qualify from these campaigns you need to pick up points.
“So far, we have done okay.
“We have taken points from every game we have played but it’s only five.
“Denmark got to the semi-finals of the Euros and we know all about them, and how good they are.
“It will be a tough week but we need to take confidence from the last couple of months to go and get a result.”
Injury scare for Scotland captain
Robertson’s participation in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers looked in serious doubt when he limped off at the end of the first half against Athletic Bilbao in Liverpool’s penultimate pre-season friendly.
The defender admitted he feared the worst. However scans showed the ligament damage in Robertson’s ankle wasn’t extensive enough to require surgery.
However it was serious enough to rule him out for the first few games of the season.
Robertson made his first appearance of the campaign at the weekend when starting in the 1-1 Premier League draw with Chelsea.
He said: “I watched the footage back and it didn’t look great.
“I probably feared the worst the next day but luckily the scan came back and while there was obviously damage, I knew I was a quick healer and I could knock time off the rehab.
“I’ve got fantastic physios at Liverpool that helped massively.
“I’m not one to accept injuries for what they are.
“I always want to knock time off it, to get back on the pitch and that was my focus, to get back as quickly as possible.
“Luckily I did that and I didn’t miss too many games.”
Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and support. Scan suggests nothing too major but there’s some ligament damage which will need to mend. I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later. Good luck to the boys playing tonight #YNWA pic.twitter.com/urKPCLmHgS
— Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) August 9, 2021
Return to action in draw with Chelsea
Robertson insists he had been working hard in training so that when he did return to game action he would be ready to hit the ground running.
He will lead out the Scots in Copenhagen and is fit and ready to go.
He said: “Before the Burnley game I felt as if I could have trained a couple of days earlier but I didn’t quite pass the tests I had to pass, so I was on the bench.
“Obviously Scotland is always something to drive you forward but that was too far away.
“I felt in my head I was pretty safe for the Scotland games but it was about trying to get back as quickly as you can.
“I came back late to pre-season so then getting the injury was disruptive.
“In training I’ve just been trying to get my sharpness back. I played my first game last week but the more games I play the better I’ll be.”