Russell ready to replace Rhodes

Johnny Russell is well aware he has big boots to fill as he aims to fire Scotland U-21s to qualification for the UEFA European Championships.

Last Updated: 05/09/12 at 17:24

Russell (l): Has big boots to fill

Russell (l): Has big boots to fill

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The Dundee United forward is aiming to cope with the pressure placed on himself in the absence of Jordan Rhodes and rise to the challenge.

Rhodes - who sealed a move from Huddersfield to Blackburn last month - has been promoted to the senior squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Macedonia after scoring eight goals for the young Scots last season.

Rhodes was also on target 40 times for Huddersfield and netted on his full international debut against Australia last month but Russell is ready to take over from the star striker as the under-21s' campaign reaches its climax.

He said: "There is a lot of expectation, especially dealing with the loss of somebody like Jordan.

"There are a lot of goals that need to be made up for. Hopefully myself and the rest of the boys can live up to that and hopefully show that we don't miss him too much."

Billy Stark's side host Luxembourg tomorrow night, before travelling to Austria for their final qualifier on Monday.

The last meeting with Luxembourg resulted in a comprehensive 5-1 victory for the Scots last October.

Russell said: "We went into that game expecting to win and being expected to win but you need to guard against complacency in games like this.

"If we just do the things that we do right, then we will definitely get a result."

Scotland sit on 10 points - three behind leaders Holland - in Group 10 and Stark believes maximum points from the last two games will be necessary to secure their place as one of the four best runners-up for the play-offs.

He said: "We need six. You could argue maybe less than that but looking at the other groups, I think we need 16 points."

First of all though, Stark simply wants their hopes to remain alive heading into the clash with Austria.

He said: "It's an incentive to provide the chance for the last game to be a cup final.

"We know we need to take that chance. The Thursday game is an opportunity to make that game a big game for us.

"We know if we don't succeed on Thursday, the chances are that we're not going to qualify."

As far as Stark is concerned, he wants more of the same from his players.

He said: "I've said it to them constantly - in every game there is no room for error in this competition.

"In every game you are under the cosh, you need to get something out of the game, you need to win games.

"That's the way they have gone into every game and they have handled it brilliantly. Hopefully they can produce the form they have shown."

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