Aston Villa star struggles to get much-needed boost after ‘toughest week’
Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn has admitted he could feel the ‘anger’ in training after Scotland missed out on World Cup qualification.
Steve Clarke’s side were beaten 3-1 by Ukraine in the semi-final of the World Cup play-offs at Hampden Park last Wednesday. Although it was Wales who finally secured their place at the tournament for the first time since 1958 after beating Ukraine 1-0 in Cardiff.
Scotland last competed in a World Cup in 1998 but qualified for the European Championship last summer. However, Villa Midfielder McGinn warned his Scottish team-mates not to throw away a potential route to Euro 2024, before starting their Nations League campaign on Wednesday.
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“It’s important that everyone can be as positive as possible on Wednesday night and shake off last week’s disappointment over Armenia,” McGinn said, as reported by the Daily recording . “In training you see that there is a bit of anger. But we trained hard to try to get it right and I’m sure we will do that on Wednesday.
“We suffered the same way, I’m sure the whole country and the fans suffered because we know we are capable of so much more. It’s been a tough week, for sure. Probably the toughest we’ve had as a group in a while because he’s been so positive with eight games unbeaten.
“But the reason everyone is hurt, frustrated, angry, is because we know we are capable of so much more. In the evening against Ukraine, we did not come, myself included.
“We all wanted to go to the World Cup. We dreamed of what we wanted to achieve. Now it’s a balance between using the injury from the game to incentivize us to get promoted to the Nations League and making sure we’re in Germany in 2024.”
Winning their Nations League group – which includes Armenia, Ireland and Ukraine – would guarantee Scotland a place in the play-offs to qualify for the next Euros. Despite this being his country’s route to qualifying for Euro 2020, the Villa vice-captain is wary of taking the Nations League too lightly after early defeats of their last campaign dashed their hopes to reach the World Cup.
“The celebrations (after reaching Euro 2020) were obviously huge at the time. We maybe went a bit too high after that which was understandable,” McGinn added, referring to the fact that Scotland have reached a major tournament. “But we threw out the Nations League group then. However, we know how important it is as players and I think the fans are starting to buy into it. .