Scotland attacker Johnny Russell is confident the commitment of the national team will not waver in the coming months.
The Scots’ hopes of automatically qualifying for next summer’s finals are virtually over, however Steve Clarke’s men still have four matches of their Group I campaign remaining ahead of March’s play-offs.
Russell is based in America with MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City, but has remained a fixture in the national team squads under both Clarke and his predecessor Alex McLeish.
The 29-year-old says he and his team-mates will continue to wear the jersey with pride despite little being at stake in their October and November double headers.
Russell said: “All the boys in the squad want to play for the country and I am sure they will continue to do that. I will be here if I am selected for the next squad.
“There are a lot of guys who have had niggling injuries going into this week but they still came and played, that shows everyone is committed.
“In the past people might have called off but not now. We are hungry to do well. It is a relatively young squad, with a few older guys – although I can’t believe I am in that group now.
“We have a squad that wants to achieve things for the country and qualify for a major tournament. We want to be the first team to achieve that in 22 years.”
Next year’s play-offs give Scotland a second chance to end their long absence from a major finals, and Russell is hopeful his side can take advantage.
The former Dundee United forward added: “We wanted to get out of the group but the Nations League play-off is a fantastic opportunity to qualify for the finals.
“We need to try and get some momentum behind us for the play-offs. Let’s be honest, it is almost impossible to qualify from the group. You can keep hoping but we have to be realistic, it is about looking to the final games. We have great players but we need to pull together and not look back.
“You look at the squad and we have quality players throughout and guys playing at a high level every week. That is the frustrating part but it gives us the belief that we can make a major finals.”
Clarke took over from McLeish in May and despite losing three of his opening four matches in charge, Russell feels the former Kilmarnock boss can use the upcoming games to implement his ideas.
Russell added: “The manager can try a few new things over those games. He is still finding his way and trying to get his best team, so these games give him a chance to look at that before the play-offs in March.
“We have had a great week in training, we did a lot of work about how we wanted to play but we didn’t do it in the two games.”