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Clarke: 'It's about time Scotland beat one of the big boys'

The Scotland boss says defeating Russia would be a boost for the whole nation.

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke has said that a win against a highly-rated side is long overdue for the national team and he is aiming to end that wait against Russia.

Clarke has been preparing his team for what looks to be a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier on Friday night, and will be putting his side out to face Belgium four days later. He said that the double-header brought an opportunity to record a result that would make people sit up and take notice after a long stretch without upsetting the odds.

"We need a big win as a country," he said.

"It's been a long time since we turned over one of the so-called big boys. I think Russia having been in the last eight of the World Cup are one of the bigger teams.

"It's about time that we as a nation, rather than being on the receiving end, are the team that's maybe dishing out a result that's deemed to be an upset.

"Hopefully tomorrow night can be the case."

The former Kilmarnock boss said that beating Stanislav Cherchesov's side could be a shot in the arm for everyone concerned from his players right through to fans up and down the country.

"I think over a number of years we haven't reached a major finals," he said. "The more often that happens, the less people start to believe in it.

"So one big result, maybe, can change the whole mindset of not just the squad but the whole nation."

Asked if the home match against Russia represented the best chance of points from the next three games, with Belgium up next and a trip to Moscow after that, Clarke said he had always tried to create a mentality where people believed any game was winnable.

He said: "If you're pessimistic [then Friday is the best chance]. If you're optimistic you think you can win any game. All through my career I've approached ever game, whichever team I'm in charge of or played for, I always think we've got a chance to win matches.

"I think if you've got that mindset then more often than not you can win games that people don't expect you to win."

After Steven Naismith missed training on Thursday, Clarke played down fears that he would be deprived of the striker for the next two games, saying "it's not a big drama" and that the Hearts striker "didn't feel quite right". He said that the rest of the squad had trained well and were ready for the tests to come.

Preparations have been good. Obviously there were a few call-offs at the start but that happens in international football and you have to deal with it.

We have dealt with it and we feel we've got a really strong squad. The work during the week has been very good and we look forward to the games coming up.

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