Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Paul Third: Trust Scotland to deliver World Cup play-off place

Scotland captain Andy Robertson
Scotland captain Andy Robertson

Two down and hopefully just one to go for Scotland as they bid to book their World Cup 2022 play-off berth this week.

A campaign which started so poorly it had us all fearing Euro 2020 qualification was a flash in the pan is nearing its conclusion with the national team having turned it all around quite magnificently to be fair.

Well played Steve Clarke, well played.

But before we all go patting ourselves on the back and enlisting Baccara for another rendition of ‘Yes Sir I Can Boogie’ there is the small matter of collecting the three more points needed to be absolutely sure we’re in the hat for the play-off draw.

Four points clear of third place with two games remaining is an unusual position for Scotland to be in but here we are, daring to dream of donning the kilts to Qatar. How long they will stay on for should we qualify for the finals is another matter but we can worry about that later.

Finish line in sight for Scotland

The important bit is the last step across the group stage finish line and Scotland are first up with their 5pm kick-off in Moldova on Friday.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke

What we want – no what we need – is for Clarke and his players to be boarding the party plane back to Scotland knowing it is job done and the final match against Denmark, who have won Group F, does not matter on Monday.

What we don’t want is to be checking our phones every five minutes because we’ve slipped up in Moldova, as our previously hidden love of all things Austria bubbles to the surface for the 7.45pm game between the Austrians and Israel, the team trying to catch us.

We don’t want to be facing the Danes at Hampden on Monday needing something from the game, at the same time as Israel are at home to the Faroe Islands.

Those occasions have, by and large, not gone well for us in the last 20 years.

It should be noted Moldova has taken one point from their eight qualifying games. Failing to beat them would be entirely and depressingly predictably, the Scottish way.

But we’re past that now, aren’t we?

Scotland captain Andy Robertson and his team-mates will always have our support but they should also have our trust too.

Who will step up in absence of suspended Dykes?

For those worried Lyndon Dykes is unavailable due to suspension on Friday, fear not. After all, Scotland have been anything but a one-man team.

Lyndon Dykes will miss the game in Moldova due to suspension.

Yes, he’s been the regular goalscorer in this campaign and the key figure in the matches last month against the Faroes and Israel, but Scotland’s success, when it has come, has always been built on the machine being greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s time for a new hero to step up in our hour of need.

We’re looking at you Che Adams, Ryan Christie, Ryan Fraser and Kevin Nisbet. At this point we’ll even take debutant Jacob Brown even though most of us have garnered what we know about him from YouTube in the last week.

The point is, this should be a new Scotland, a team not burdened by failures of the past but by the glory of ending our long wait to be at the big party.

Put your faith in them to be inspired to do it again and move a step closer to sampling the atmosphere of competing in the World Cup finals.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]