Steven Naismith: Scotland 'should stay at Hampden but play at other grounds'

Steven Naismith celebrates scoring Scotland's second goal against Albania
Steven Naismith celebrates scoring Scotland's second goal to a backdrop of empty seats at Hampden

Scotland should forget moving to Murrayfield and stay at Hampden but move some games to smaller grounds to "gain advantage", says Steven Naismith.

The Hearts striker forced in the opener and headed a second goal in Monday's 2-0 Nations League win over Albania.

But a crowd of just 17,455 at Hampden reinforced his view that certain games could be played elsewhere, with the SFA to confirm a decision on Tuesday.

"If it's a straight shoot-out then I'd say stay at Hampden," said Naismith.

"But it does need to be looked at. Tonight is a prime example. These kind of games would be better suited at other club grounds that are not as big but have a much better atmosphere.

"There's definitely a difference (when the crowd is not as big). When I played here against Spain and Holland and it's a full crowd, it's a fantastic stadium to play your football in.

"But when it's a Monday night and there is 20,000-odd here, it's a different game altogether. We knew it would be like that so we worked together and we created the tempo ourselves."

With ticket prices at £30-a-head for the Nations League opener and the dispiriting nature of Friday's 4-0 hammering by Belgium, Naismith praised the Scotland supporters that did head to Hampden on a rain-soaked evening.

"But we could gain a bit more advantage if we had a smaller stadium that has a much better atmosphere," he said.

"It's not just [Hearts' ground] Tynecastle. We've got some fantastic grounds. Aberdeen are moving forward with a new stadium, Hibs, Hearts, the Old Firm - why not take advantage of them if it can help us?"

'I'm not going to rest on my laurels'

Monday capped a successful international comeback for Naismith, who was a late addition to the original squad and won his first cap in 18 months as a substitute against Belgium.

Picked ahead of Celtic's Leigh Griffiths to start up front, the 31-year-old missed a glaring first-half chance when he hit the post with a header from a few yards out, and had a goal disallowed for offside.

But his header forced Albania's Berat Djimsiti to nod into his own net early in the second period, and Naismith's eighth international goal helped ease any lingering nerves.

"I was claiming a second until I came off the park and they told me I'm not getting it," added the former Rangers and Everton forward, who has scored seven goals in eight games for Hearts this season.

"But to be honest I'm just glad to be back involved. I've taken my chances when they have come along.

"I'm not going to rest on my laurels. When I got the chance to come back in I was delighted to do it.

"But I also know I'm one of the older ones and you need to impress. In training I've just worked as hard as I could and the manager has given me my chance."

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