'We want Scotland Women to inspire the nation', says head coach Shelley Kerr

Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr
Shelley Kerr took over the Scotland Women team following the departure of Anna Signeul

Shelley Kerr says Scotland are looking to "captivate a nation" during their Women's World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Scots kick-off with a double-header, facing Belarus in Minsk before returning home to take on Albania.

"The team have done very well defensively over the years - now we want to take it to the next level and be more exciting," Kerr said.

"We're looking at results but to inspire the next generation you have to produce an entertaining product."

After a heartbreaking end to their first major finals last summer at the Women's European Championship - missing out on the quarter-finals on goal difference by a single goal despite a memorable win over Spain - the Scots' pride remains intact and they are eager to get back into action.

"They have been a little bit disappointed because they put in a lot of hard work and lot of players were involved for a long time," said Kerr, who took over from Anna Signeul in August.

"Being in tournament finals gave them experience but also the hunger to do it again, and hopefully that shows in our performances in our upcoming games."

Scotland have been drawn in Group Two alongside Switzerland, Poland, Belarus and Albania as they bid to make only their second major tournament finals.

While they may have avoided heavyweights such as England and Germany, Kerr is still anticipating a tough journey to get to France 2019.

Hibs' Joelle Murray and Lucy Graham
Joelle Murray and Lucy Graham are among four Hibs players in the squad

"We know Switzerland will be tough, Poland too, then you've got the travel implications playing away to Belarus, so we know it won't be easy.

"This is a different format from the Euros and it is much harder to qualify, and while we are extremely excited about this group of players, that's on paper and you have to make it happen on the pitch."

Scotland last faced and defeated the Belarusians in Euro qualifying last summer, having won 7-0 the year before, but Kerr and her team will not be taking anything for granted against a side capable of scoring.

"They've climbed the ranking a couple of places since we played them previously," she added. "They've been a bit more expansive in terms of their attacking play and we have to be aware of that threat, they've got two or three really good players."

'We want to play attractive football'

Gemma Fay, Leanne Ross and Ifeoma Dieke all retired after the European campaign - taking with them 458 caps worth of experience.

But long-term injured duo Jennifer Beattie and Emma Mitchell return to the fold, and with young stars such as Erin Cuthbert (19), Claire Emslie (23) and goalkeeper Jenna Fife (21) getting her first call up, Kerr says she has an "extremely talented" group on her hands.

"We want as many players as possible to put each other under pressure as it's the only way you can provide that stimulated, competitive environment," she added.

"There's a trust, a real cohesiveness and we want to play attractive football where and when possible."

Kerr's career has hardly been short of highlights. She was capped 59 times by Scotland in her own playing career, led Arsenal Ladies to two FA Women's Cups as head coach and became the first female manager of a men's senior football club in Britain, but says taking on the role as national coach is special.

"When it's your country it's an extremely proud moment for myself and my family and everyone who has supported me," Kerr told BBC Scotland.

"I'm 100% looking forward to it, it's been a long time coming since the appointment was made so really just excited now about the games and kicking off our World Cup campaign."

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Lee Alexander (Glasgow City), Jenna Fife (Hibernian), Shannon Lynn (Vittsjo)

Defenders: Rachel Corsie (Seattle Reign), Chloe Arthur (Bristol City), Jennifer Beattie (Manchester City), Joelle Murray (Hibernian), Kirsty Smith (Hibernian), Sophie Howard (1899 Hoffenheim), Emma Mitchell (Arsenal), Frankie Brown (unattached)

Midfielders: Erin Cuthbert (Chelsea), Caroline Weir (Liverpool), Leanne Crichton (Glasgow City), Jo Love (Glasgow City), Hayley Lauder (Glasgow City), Lucy Graham (Hibernian)

Forwards: Lisa Evans (Arsenal), Jane Ross (Manchester City), Lana Clelland (Tavagnacco Femminile), Claire Emslie (Manchester City), Fiona Brown (Eskilstuna United), Christie Murray (Doncaster Rover Belles)

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