Martin: Composure key for Scots

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:10

Martin: Composure key for Scots

Gordon Strachan’s men edged a frantic encounter at Celtic Park last November in which Shaun Maloney’s goal from a rehearsed set-piece gave the Scots a 1-0 win.

Martin predicts Saturday’s game will be played in a similar fashion and is expecting an early onslaught from the Irish as they look to claw their way back into contention in Group D.

“The first game was the most intense I have played all season to be honest, maybe apart from the playoff semi-finals,” Martin said.

“It was full-blooded, hectic and frantic but when the dust settled and we had a bit of time to play, we did get it down and play and we played some really good stuff.

“I think the game will start the same vein this time. It is up to us to try and slow it down a bit and try and play at the tempo and control the game the way we want to.”

Republic of Ireland go into the game in fourth place in the group, two points behind Scotland and Germany and three behind group leaders Poland.

Martin O’Neill has admitted his team cannot afford another loss on Saturday but Norwich defender Martin was reluctant to say a defeat will signal the end of the Irish’s qualification hopes.

“You can never say never in football,” Martin admitted. “They have had some good results against Germany and against Poland so no I don’t think so.

“I think it makes it a lot more difficult for them and it puts us in a great position so we have got to make sure we go there and do that.

Martin has struck up a sound partnership with Grant Hanley at the heart of the Scottish defence under Gordon Strachan but the Blackburn man has been left out of the squad to face Ireland after failing to recover from a troublesome calf injury.

While Martin admitted Hanley’s absence is a blow, he believes Scotland have plenty of quality depth at the position.

“Grant has been out of the last couple of squads so I have played with Gordon Greer, Christophe Berra and with Charlie Mulgrew against England,” Martin said.

“I think with the way the manager sets us up and what he asks us to do, it is really clear, so whoever comes in knows exactly the job they have to do. All three of them have done a great job.

“Me and Grant have forged a really strong relationship but when he hasn’t been there or I haven’t been there, the defensive record has been really good so I don’t think there is too much to worry about.”

The man who appears most likely to get the nod to take Hanley’s place is Mulgrew and Martin admitted it is a huge boost for Scotland to have the Celtic utility man available after a long spell on the sidelines with injury.

Martin said: “Looking at training and the way he played last week, I would never have known he has been out for that long.

“He looks really fit and really sharp and when you have a fully fit Charlie Mulgrew it is a good thing to have. It is a bonus for us, especially with his versatility and the quality he has on the ball.”
Watch Rep. Ireland v Scotland live on Sky Sports 1HD, Saturday from 4pm

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