Scotland v Albania: Alex McLeish says players must start to change fan opinions

Scotland head coach Alex McLeish
McLeish wants to lift the gloom after Friday's defeat by Belgium
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Monday, 10 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Scotland's players have to change the country's perception of them by winning matches, head coach Alex McLeish says.

McLeish's side go into Uefa Nations League opener with Albania on Monday on the back of a friendly loss to Belgium.

Winning the group, which also contains Israel, would give Scotland a chance of a place at Euro 2020 and a first major finals appearance in 22 years.

"I'm hearing people say it's more hope than expectation, but we have to change that perception," McLeish said.

"The players are motivated for it and this is where it starts."

Albania, who started League C's Group 1 with a 1-0 win over Israel on Friday, are ranked 58th in the world - 18 places below Monday's hosts.

McLeish had already stated that his players were "angry with themselves" for their performance in Friday's 4-0 friendly defeat by the Belgians.

And he said on Sunday that Scots often "produce their best" when they are "backed into a corner".

"I'm not saying everyone is against us, but the players know that, to get their names on the international map again, they have to win these types of games," he said.

"We need to change it from 'ach, they'll no do it' to 'great team we've got, exciting times ahead'.

"We feel pretty good about ourselves, but it's time to stop the talking."

McLeish has several selection dilemma for the Hampden encounter with the Albanians, not least how to accommodate Liverpool's Andy Robertson - his captain - and Celtic's Kieran Tierney in the same team.

Previous Scotland boss Gordon Strachan had utilised Tierney at right-back, while McLeish used the 21-year-old on the left of a three-man central defence on Friday.

"It's one of these conundrums," the head coach said. "I don't want to leave either out of the team.

"The versatility of the players means the opportunity is there to change the system in future. Maybe I could move Andy to left wing in the future and get Kieran in at left-back, who knows?"

Scotland defender Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney insists he is happy to learn a new position with Scotland

'They'd be happier in a back four' - analysis

Former Scotland defender Willie Miller on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound

It's a strength to have two excellent left-backs but also a problem because you are asking players to play in positions they don't want to be in. They'll do it, but they'd be happier in a back four. I'm not sure about Robertson playing left-wing because he wants to come from deep, so I think you're looking at Tierney as left centre-back or right-back.

Former Scotland striker Billy Dodds on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound

There were occasions against Belgium to be positive about the passing and the chances that we created. So, for Albania, I'm optimistic - but worried.

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