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Skipper Andy Robertson insists Scotland will handle the pressure to secure a World Cup play-off spot

Scotland captain Andy Robertson during a training session in Spain.
Scotland captain Andy Robertson during a training session in Spain.

National skipper Andy Robertson insists Scotland can handle the pressure in Moldova to seal a World Cup play-off spot.

Scotland will claim a play-off spot for Qatar 2022 if they defeat the Group F bottom nation in Chisinau.

Liverpool full-back Robertson knows a nation expects them to deliver a win to confirm a berth for the play-offs, which will take place in March.

Robertson insists the Scots under manager Steve Clarke have a track record of handling the heat when it matters.

They beat Serbia in a Euro 2020 play-off last November to end a 23-year absence from the finals of a major tournament.

Scotland also defeated main Group F rivals Israel and Austria to move into pole position to finish second in this campaign and secure a play-off spot.

Robertson aims to finish the job in Moldova.

Andy Robertson with boss Steve Clarke after the 3-2 defeat of Israel at Hampden.

He said: “There is always pressure when you are representing your country.

“We are representing everyone back home and that brings its own pressure.

“I think we have been really good at dealing with the pressure and it has usually brought out the best in us.

“I hope that happens again in Moldova.

“It’s important we don’t take anything for granted, because every game brings different challenges and pressures.

“I believe the players are well equipped to deal with Moldova.

“We know if we get three points we have secured second place, which has been our aim since Denmark clinched first place.

“We know what’s at stake and everyone at home knows what’s at stake.

“It’s important we put in the performance to get three points then it is job done and everyone can look forward to massive games in March.”

Ryan Christie and Andy Robertson training with Scotland in Spain.

A track record of handling pressure

There is no better Scot qualified to lead the nation in high pressure games.

Robertson has won the Champions League, Premier League and the Club World Cup with Liverpool.

Scotland can seal a play-off spot with a game to spare in the qualifying campaign.

Clarke’s side face group winners Denmark at Hampden in the final match of the qualifying campaign on Monday evening.

Robertson said: “When you get close to the end of a campaign, there’s no room for error.

“We’re at that stage now and so are all the other countries.

“We are in a really good spot going into the last two games as we are in control of our own destiny. That’s all you can ask.”

A barrier negotiated in Serbia

Scotland ended more than two decades of qualification failure when overcoming Serbia in November last year to qualify for the Euro finals.

Although the Scots failed to progress from the group stages in the summer finals, Robertson insists that vital barrier had been crossed in finally qualifying.

Now that they have a taste for major tournament action, the Scots are hungry for more.

Robertson said: “It was a barrier. A lot of people in our country probably didn’t believe we would ever get over it.

“The longer it goes, the more people start believing that it’s never going to happen again.

“Credit to the manager and the coaches as they changed that mentality with the help of myself and maybe the more experienced lads.

“To change that mentality of not thinking about the last 23 years, but thinking about the here and now, and we managed to do that.

“We ticked a huge box by beating Serbia and getting to the Euros.

“The feeling the whole country had of us being at a major tournament was incredible and the boys are hungry for more and so is the country.

“The country really came together and united then.

“We don’t want to be sitting at home when the World Cup or any more Euros are going on.

“We want to be there. But we know how hard it is and how much it takes.

“That’s how we know how important Moldova is to secure the play-offs then March will bring its own challenges.”

Skipper Andy Robertson during a training session in Spain ahead of the Moldova game.

Robertson taking nothing for granted

Moldova have only secured one point so far in the qualifying campaign, a draw against fellow minnows Faroe Islands.

However, the Scots could only edge past Moldova 1-0 at Hampden in September and Robertson will take nothing for granted.

He said: “We know how hard it’s going to be as they made it hard at Hampden.

“We need to be at our best. Training all week has been really good and it’s important we take that into the game.

“I’m sure if we do that then we will have enough to get the three points.

“We will need to use all the experience we have. We have to stay calm, composed and stick to our game plan.

“That is the best way to win this game.”

Jacob Brown settles into the squad

Stoke City striker Jacob Brown is in contention to earn a debut cap in Moldova having been named in the Scotland squad for the first time for the qualifying double-header.

Striker Lyndon Dykes is suspended for the qualifier in Chisinau.

Jacob Brown during Scotland training ahead of the Moldova game.

Robertson said: “He has settled in really well off the pitch.

“That’s the most important thing, because if players are settled off the pitch you are more likely to get the best of them on the pitch.

“I’ve had a few conversations with Jacob and he seems a really good lad.

“The squad is close and we have been through a lot together.

“When new players come in, it’s important they feel part of that and comfortable.

“Jacob is a good player and showed that in training.”