Scotland can be inspired by Wales for World Cup qualifiers - Matt Ritchie

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Matt Ritchie celebrates his winning goal for Scotland against Denmark in March
Ritchie has scored three goals, including the winner against Denmark, in his 10 caps
World Cup qualifying Group F: Malta v Scotland
Date: Sunday, 4 September Venue: Ta'Qali National Stadium, Attard Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Matt Ritchie says Scotland should be inspired by how Wales performed at the European Championships as they begin their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Newcastle winger hopes Gordon Strachan's team can be the "surprise package" in Group F, which they kick off against Malta on Sunday.

"Nobody expected Wales to do so well in the Euros and they did fantastically," said the 26-year-old.

"Hopefully we can have the same sort of impact on our group."

Scotland, 51st in Fifa's world rankings,external-link are in a qualifying group with England (ranked 11), Slovakia (24), Slovenia (59), Lithuania (125), and Malta (176).

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England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all progressed past the group stage at this summer's Euros, but Wales went on to reach the semi-finals.

Wales captain Ashley Williams, star forward Gareth Bale and manager Chris Coleman enjoy a homecoming parade in Cardiff
Wales enjoyed a homecoming parade in Cardiff after reaching the semi-finals in France

Scotland were forced to look on from the outside after finishing behind Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland in their qualifying group, but Ritchie believes there were still positives to build on.

"We were unlucky not to beat Poland, we had a fantastic performance against Germany at Hampden," noted Ritchie, who played in five of the qualifiers and has scored three goals in his 10 caps to date.

"If you look at those performances, to do so well against top teams, there are a lot of positives to be taken.

"It's going to be tricky to qualify because it's only one team [the group winners], and eight [best runners-up from the nine groups] go into the play-offs. But it's our aim and hopefully we can do so.

Scotland's World Cup qualifiers
4 Sep 2016: A Malta10 Jun '17: H England
8 Oct '16: H Lithuania1 Sep '17: A Lithuania
11 Oct '16: A Slovakia4 Sep '17: H Malta
11 Nov '16: A England5 Oct '17: H Slovakia
26 Mar '17: H Slovenia8 Oct '17: A Slovenia

"You can look at all the games and say, 'we should win this, we should win that', but nothing's won on paper.

"The lads have to go out and perform. That's why in the Euros you saw so many surprise results. These so-called [minnow] teams that you should beat are sometimes the toughest games.

"But as long as you concentrate and you're prepared for what's in front of you, you'll be ok."

Oliver Burke trains with Scotland before their qualifier against Malta
Oliver Burke could feature against Malta on Sunday after his £13m move to Germany

Having seen Oliver Burke up close in training, and playing for Nottingham Forest in the Championship, Ritchie believes that his international team-mate can thrive following his £13m move to Red Bull Leipzig, which made him Scotland's most expensive player.

"The sky's the limit for him, if he has the mentality and desire to progress," Ritchie said.

"If you look at his stature, he's very much like Gareth Bale. But I don't want to build him up to being like Gareth Bale, he's very much his own player. It's all about staying grounded and working hard if he's to fulfil his potential.

"As a player, you don't think about the price tag, that's business that goes on behind the scenes that you're not part of.

"He's a young lad who loves football and he just wants to play. That' s the best way for him to stay, dedicated and with the desire to get better and play at the highest level."

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