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Martin O'Neill: Scots 'on a high' after win win

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Chris Martin

Chris Martin

SPORTSFILE

Handout photo provide by William Hill of Scotland's Shaun Maloney celebrates scoring during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 14, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Scotland. Photo credit should read

Handout photo provide by William Hill of Scotland's Shaun Maloney celebrates scoring during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 14, 2014. See PA story SOCCER Scotland. Photo credit should read

PA

Chris Martin

Chris Martin admits Scotland's European Championship qualifying win over the Republic of Ireland has taken the pressure off ahead of the friendly match against England tomorrow night.

A terrific goal by Shaun Maloney at Celtic Park on Friday night took the Scots level with the Irish and Germany on seven points, three behind Group D leaders Poland, as the qualifiers go into abeyance until next March when group minnows Gibraltar, without a goal or a point in four fixtures, visit Hampden Park.

Asked if Scotland could enjoy the game against the Auld Enemy at Parkhead better knowing that three vital Euro points had been secured, the 26-year-old Derby striker said: "I think so. The pressure is off a little bit in that game.

"Hopefully we can go and enjoy ourselves and give the fans something to shout about again.

"It was a massive win, and obviously we will take massive confidence into the England game.

"Hopefully we will be on a high and so will the fans."

Suffolk-born Martin played for England Under-19s but qualifies for Scotland through his Glaswegian father and he made his debut as a substitute in the friendly against Nigeria at Craven Cottage in May.

The former Norwich player felt "privileged" to make his fourth appearance off the bench against the Irish, replacing Steven Fletcher after the break, in "one of the biggest occasions and biggest crowds I have played in front of".

While acknowledging the importance of three points against Martin O'Neill's side, Martin believes the bid to reach France in 2016 is likely to go to the last game of the campaign.

"There are still another few games to go and I think it will go down to the wire to be honest with you," he said.

"There are good teams in this group and it has been said many times that it is probably the toughest group and games can be decided by one goal, a set-piece or a little bit of luck.

"We know it is going to be that tight.

"We need to make sure we concentrate on every single game and get as many points as we can and see where that takes us.

"I don't think we can worry too much about other teams.

"We need to focus on our own jobs and if we do that well enough then hopefully that will mean we qualify."

TARGET

The only downside for Martin at Celtic Park was missing the target from a Steven Naismith cut-back.

"I should have done better," he said. "I was disappointed that I didn't score but thankfully Shaun got me out of jail a little bit with a great finish.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game because they had picked up a lot of points.

"I was perhaps a little bit surprised that they didn't play a bit more football but we stood up to it very well to it. We were the ones who tried to play more football and with us being at home the onus was probably on us to come out and play a little bit more and we felt that we did that.

"We could and probably should have scored more goals.

"We created a good few chances. Obviously mine was one of them but it didn't matter in the end.

"It didn't matter who scored, as long we win, that is the main thing."

Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney will tell the younger members of the England squad they must not be intimidated by the hostile atmosphere at Celtic Park.

Rooney marked his entry into the 100 club with a crucial penalty on Saturday as England came from behind to record a 3-1 win over Slovenia.

Rooney knows all about the white-hot atmosphere of Celtic Park.

He played there twice with Manchester United and he has also watched from the stands after being given tickets by his old team-mates Alan Stubbs and Roy Keane.

Given the intense rivalry between the two nations, Rooney expects the decibel levels to be even higher on Tuesday night and he therefore feels his inexperienced team-mates may need some calm words of reassurance before kick-off.

"You don't realise until you actually play there what the atmosphere is like," the England captain said.

"The atmosphere was great when I was in the crowd, unbelievable, but you don't realise until you're on that pitch what it's like so maybe a few of them, you might need to speak to them and say: 'Listen, this is going to be hostile. Make sure you blank it out, relax, and play your normal game. Don't get involved in it.'"


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