Steven Naismith: Scotland must win double header to retain World Cup hopes

Scotland and Norwich forward Steven Naismith
World Cup qualifier: Lithuania v Scotland
Venue: LFF Stadionas, Vilnius Date: Friday, 1 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Radio Scotland 810MW, plus live text commentary via the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

We go into this double header with Lithuania and Malta knowing six points are a must. Nothing else is good enough.

Unfortunately, the campaign did not get off to the best of starts for Scotland, so we need to do it at the business end.

It probably puts more pressure on the games but we are going in on the back of positive home displays against Slovenia and England.

The roles are reversed from the last campaign for the Euros when we got off to a great start, picking up points away from home, before it fell away.

This time round, we have a bit of work to do but we look at these two games as an opportunity to build momentum for the final two fixtures.

We need to learn from missing out on Euro 2016 and use it to get us over the line and into that play-off spot.

'Hunger to qualify for World Cup finals'

We have a squad of experienced guys who have been through a few campaigns now.

The hunger is there, with a few of us coming to the back end of our careers. We want to give ourselves the best chance possible of reaching a major finals.

This is my 11th year as an international and, on a personal note, 50 caps is something I'm chasing.

Group F

If you go back to my debut in 2007, coming on as a substitute against the Faroe Islands, I never thought I would get anywhere near the 45 caps I have.

It's been a great journey but to not make a finals would be a disappointment and that's what I'll strive for in my last few years of involvement.

Don't get me wrong, you hope to play as long as you can, but realistically, I have maybe one more campaign in me.

Pitch concerns

A lot of people expect us to win in Vilnius on Friday but we know how tough this game is going to be. I've played out there once before and it was a 0-0 draw in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Lithuania showed in last year's 1-1 draw at Hampden that they are a decent side. They were well organised and willing to risk playing some nice football at times.

The game is on artificial turf, which we just need to get on with. The run of the ball is different and your twisting and turning is different; you lose a bit of sharpness on these surfaces but it's the same for both teams.

Steven Naismith scores the winner against Lithuania at Hampden in September 2011
Naismith scores the winner against Lithuania at Hampden in September 2011

I've scored against Lithuania before, the only goal at Hampden in 2011. We missed a penalty in the first half and we weren't playing as fluently as we wanted to, so getting that goal was really important.

Of my seven international goals, the one against Spain maybe looks better because it was against the world and European champions at the time, but the Lithuania goal was just as special.

Deadline day memories

Transfer deadline day will always bring back memories of my move from Kilmarnock to Rangers in 2007, when I signed with just seconds to go.

I still remember it clearly. It was a Friday and I didn't think I'd be involved in training but then I had my boots on. When training finished, I thought the gaffer was going to pull me over for a chat, but nothing.

Then the squad list went up and I was on it. I was starting to think: 'Hold on what's happening here? I should be getting whisked off for a medical.'

I spoke to my agent and I was getting texts telling me to keep my phone on.

The night dragged on. I turned off the TV at 22:15 and was just getting ready for bed when my agent called and told me to meet him at Ibrox and then we'd go to Murray Park.

Steven Naismith won six trophies in his five years with Rangers
Naismith won six trophies in his five years with Rangers, including three league titles

I jumped in the car and drove as fast as I could from my flat in Stewarton.

I was checking my phone when I was doing my medical and it was 23:30 and I still hadn't signed anything. No one else was rushing. It was 23:51 when we were walking upstairs to the office.

It turned out to be one of the most memorable nights of my career. A dream come true.

Transfer fees 'ludicrous'

Some of the fees being paid in England this summer are ludicrous. It's unsustainable.

I remember asking where this would end when Manchester United signed Angel Di Maria for almost £60m three years ago.

Is it going to turn out like basketball and baseball, with guys signing contracts worth hundreds of millions?

When I was young, I was fortunate to have strong friends and family round me. I stayed at home until I was 25.

Now kids in England are bouncing into full-time football at 16 and earning thousands of pounds a week. It's so easy for them to go off track and make huge mistakes.

There's not enough help in terms of what to deal with.

One minute they are at school, then the next they are making more than their mums and dads. It's hard to get your head round it.

Steven Naismith was speaking to BBC Scotland's Keir Murray

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