Lithuania v Scotland: We're going in right direction, says Hibs' Vykintas Slivka

Hibs' Vykintas Slivka celebrates scoring against Rangers
Vykintas Slivka has already scored for Hibs this season
World Cup Qualifying Group F: Lithuania v Scotland
Venue: LFF Stadium, Vilnius Date: Friday, 1 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, live text coverage on BBC Sport website

Vykintas Slivka admits Lithuania are a team in transition but thinks they are making progress as they prepare to face Scotland in World Cup qualifying.

The 22-year-old midfielder is one of two Hibernian players in Edgaras Jankauskas' squad for Friday's Group F game at LFF Stadium in Vilnius.

"We have a young team," Slivka told BBC Scotland. "I think we're still in the process of developing our game.

"We're preparing for the future, I think we are in the right direction."

Former Hearts striker Jankauskas' team trail Scotland by three points, with the fourth-placed Scots another three behind Slovenia and four adrift of Slovakia.

England, two points clear of Slovakia, lead the section.

All nine group winners qualify for next summer's finals in Russia, while the eight best runners-up enter play-offs for the final four places on offer to Uefa nations.

"If we want to qualify, we have to win all the games," Slivka admitted.

"It's not a big deal even if we don't make it to the World Cup because we are a young team.

"We are looking forward, we are building our game."

Jagiellonia Bialystok's Arvydas Novikovas (right) in Europa League qualifying action against Dinamo Batumi
Arvydas Novikovas (right) played Europa League qualifiers for Jagiellonia Bialystok this season

Slivka picked out captain Fiodor Cernych, who plays in the Polish top flight, as one of the main threats to Scotland in Vilnius.

The Russia-born forward has scored three goals in his last six internationals, including the 1-1 draw with Scotland at Hampden in October.

And his 13 strikes in 36 club appearances last season helped Jagiellonia Bialystok qualify for the Europa League, although he has only found the net once in 12 this term.

Cernych's club-mate and fellow 26-year-old Arvydas Novikovas is another who Slivka thinks can help Lithuania to victory and the midfielder is well known to Scottish fans for his five-year spell with Hearts.

"We have a captain who is in very good shape from last season," he said. "We have Novikovas.

"We don't have such big names, but I think we're strong as a team. We fight for each other."

Slivka, who joined Hibs for an undisclosed fee from Juventus this summer, will find himself in the opposite corner to club-mates John McGinn and Steven Whittaker in Vilnius.

Asked about Scotland's main threats, he said: "I couldn't say one player.

"The whole team is real good in every position. They have strong players.

"We will be looking forward to win, but Scotland's a good team, good players.

"Two players from Hibs - John and Steven - so I'm looking forward to that."

Fiodor Cernych scores for Lithuania against Scotland at Hampden
Fiodor Cernych scored for Lithuania against Scotland at Hampden last year

Scotland have only won once in four visits to Lithuania and Slivka thinks the home fans will also hold their own against the Tartan Army.

"I hope our fans will surprise," he said. "We'll see, we'll see.

"It is quite a small stadium. The atmosphere will be good."

Scotland drew their last qualifying match 2-2 against England, with Celtic's Leigh Griffiths scoring two free-kicks.

"Hopefully, we won't make those free-kicks," joked Slivka, who netted in a 2-0 win over Slovenia in September.

Slivka has featured in four matches for Hibs and he secured three points with the decisive goal at Ibrox in a 3-2 victory over Rangers.

"I'm getting used to it," he added. "It's a nice country, nice city. Football is okay - as long as we win.

"Playing attacking football, we want to score and want to dominate the games so I think that suits me."

Top Stories