Russell Martin backs buoyant Celtic players to boost Scotland

Russell Martin is delighted to have the Celtic players back for the Slovenia match
Russell Martin is delighted to have the Celtic players back for the Slovenia match
World Cup qualifier: Scotland v Slovenia
Date: Sunday, 26 March Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Celtic players buoyant by being on the brink of another league title could be just the tonic for Scotland against Slovenia, says Russell Martin.

Scott Brown and four other Celtic players were rested for Wednesday's 1-1 friendly draw with Canada.

And fellow midfielder Stuart Armstrong is being tipped for a first cap.

"The run they are on is fantastic, so it's only going to increase their confidence and it rubs off on the group," said defender Martin.

"You can see they've got a spring in their step, a lightness about them they've maybe not had over the past year or so, and they're all enjoying it a lot.

"The more individuals you've got on the pitch who are confident in the way they are playing, the way they're doing things, the better."

Scotland lie fifth in World Cup qualifying Group F and head coach Gordon Strachan has described Sunday's home match against Slovenia as must-win if they are to revive their hopes of reaching the 2018 finals.

Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown have thrived under Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown have thrived under Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers

Martin believes Scotland's failure to reach Euro 2016 was partly to blame for the side's poor start to World Cup qualifying.

"I think the disappointment of not qualifying when we played so well for the majority of the campaign and one result probably cost us really," said the Norwich City player.

"That's disappointing for people and it's difficult to take, and we have maybe not got over that quickly enough.

"Performances haven't been terrible, but there's no one reason - if there had been one reason, we would have rectified it."

Strachan's future will again be in the spotlight should the Scots fail to win, but Martin says the players still back the former Celtic and Southampton boss.

"We are still working hard and everybody still believes in what the manager wants to do," the 31-year-old said.

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan
Gordon Strachan has Scotland going in the right direction, according to Martin

"Everyone enjoys working for him, everyone likes him and we need to make sure we show that on Sunday and put in a performance that makes sure there are no question marks about where we're moving and where we're heading in the campaign.

"We've changed the way we are playing a little bit because the squad's changed and we are still working hard.

"But the most important thing is, regardless of what's gone on in the last three or four games of this campaign, if we win on Sunday, we are right back in the mix and we've got a right chance of moving up the group and qualifying.

"We need a little spark in this campaign and hopefully Sunday will be it."

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