Scotland: Mark McGhee remains upbeat on World Cup play-off chances

Leigh Griffiths scored two fantastic free kicks in the draw with England
Leigh Griffiths scored two fantastic free kicks in the draw with England

Scotland are still hurting from conceding a last-gasp equaliser to England but remain hopeful of a World Cup qualifying play-off place, says assistant manager Mark McGhee.

A dramatic 2-2 draw at Hampden left Scotland fourth in Group F, with unbeaten England leading the way.

"Ultimately it could be the point that sees us into second spot," said McGhee.

"I think we have to win the remaining games to be sure of that, but that point could be very, very important."

Scotland are four points behind second-placed Slovakia and three adrift of Slovenia.

With games away to Lithuania and at home to Malta to come at the start of September, while Slovakia and Slovenia meet each other next and both have to visit England, McGhee reckons Scotland's chances of reaching Russia in 2018 could take a significant upturn by the autumn.

"At the moment we're still getting over those last couple of minutes (against England)," said McGhee.

"We're still questioning ourselves - was there anything that we could have done in the time between us scoring and them equalising to avoid it? You examine yourself before you start looking anywhere else. I think because of the importance of it, we're still in that stage.

"Now we need England now to go and beat everyone and of course we need to do the job ourselves."

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee
McGhee is keen to return to club management

Scotland's final two games of the campaign are at home to Slovakia and away to Slovenia in October.

"The first two games (against Lithuania and Malta) would be the first two you'd choose to play," McGhee said. "Those are two that we absolutely should and must win.

"I think the confidence we could gain going into the last two games, given we would have another six points in the bag, and somewhere along the line something would have changed with regards to Slovakia's and Slovenia's results, if we can get six points then it will look an awful lot different.

"The first thing we have to deal with is Lithuania and Malta and, if we can deal with Lithuania first, Malta at home is a game we would have no excuse not to win, so that would set us up nicely for the other two.

"We haven't done anything yet - in fact we're almost out of it - so we've got to claw ourselves back into it, but we do have the opportunity and I believe we have the ability to do that."

Group F

McGhee's own situation could be different come September as he plots a return to club management, having been sacked by Motherwell in February.

The 60-year-old revealed he had had a meeting over the weekend regarding a job offer with a foreign club.

"I'll take a little bit of time to consider it," he said. "It wouldn't affect my position in the Scotland team. I do have options and I do intend when the right thing comes along to go back in."

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