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Steven Naismith aiming for 'dream' ending to 2018

The forward wants 50 caps and a play-off place by the end of the year.

Target: Naismith wants 50 caps.
Target: Naismith wants 50 caps. SNS Group

Steven Naismith is aiming to use Thursday's match against Israel as the springboard for the perfect ending to 2018.

The Hearts attacker is closing in on his 50th international cap and could fire his country to the Euro 2020 play-offs.

Naismith is expected to lead the attack against Israel in the Nations League match and could feature against Portugal in a Hampden friendly four days later. Should he play in both, he could hit the 50-cap mark in the double-header against Albania and Israel in November.

"It would be a dream ending to the year I suppose," he said.

"But there is a lot of hard work personally and collectively as a group and that starts tomorrow.

"I didn't totally (think chance for 50 had gone) but I did begin to wonder if I am going to get any more chances.

"It is difficult when you miss out on a squad or are in a squad but you aren't involved in the games.

"But my mentality has always been to work as hard as I can and never give up and I am thankful to get the opportunity but it is about putting in the performances and on match days as well.

"As you get older you feel that your opportunities maybe get a bit more limited and you have to grasp them.

"I felt really good since the start of the season. I started well with my club and obviously got my chance the last time round.

"The message is carry on and try to do what I did last time."

Scotland are looking to build on the 2-0 win over Albania from their first group game, while Israel lost 1-0 to the same opposition last month. Naismith said they still posed a serious challenge.

"We will definitely not be taking it lightly," he said.

"We know they have got some very good players in their squad.

"Obviously they are in a bit of transition at the moment but we have been in that position ourselves where it is tough to get everybody used to the systems and the way you want to play.

"But they are a good team, especially at home and we will need to be at our best."

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