Home / Sports / Steven Naismith eyes ‘dream’ double of 50 Scotland caps and Nations League play-off | Football News

Steven Naismith eyes ‘dream’ double of 50 Scotland caps and Nations League play-off | Football News

Israel host Scotland in the Nations League on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm

Last Updated: 10/10/18 10:34pm

Hearts forward Steven Naismith is closing in on  50 Scotland caps

Hearts forward Steven Naismith is closing in on  50 Scotland caps

Hearts forward Steven Naismith is closing in on 50 Scotland caps

Steven Naismith is looking to end the year with the “dream” double of 50 Scotland caps and a place in the UEFA Nations League play-offs.

The 32-year-old Hearts attacker is set to make his 48th appearance in the Group C1 game against Israel in Haifa on Thursday night, live on Sky Sports Main Event.

Featuring in the Portugal friendly at Hampden Park on Sunday would mean he could join the Scottish Football Association’s prestigious international roll of honour, for those who have reached a half-century of caps, in the double-header against Albania and Israel next month.

By then Naismith, who scored in the 2-0 win over Albania in the section opener last month after originally being left out of Alex McLeish’s squad, would like nothing more than for Scotland also to have topped their three-team section and be in the draw for the Nations League play-offs, which offers another route to the European Championship.

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Scotland manager Alex McLeish says they should not be fooled by the form of Israel who have lost their last four games.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish says they should not be fooled by the form of Israel who have lost their last four games.

Speaking at the Sammy Ofer stadium before the Scotland squad trained, he said: “It would be a dream ending to the year I suppose.

“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.

Israel vs Scotland

October 11, 2018, 7:30pm

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“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.”

Israel lost 1-0 to Albania in their Group C1 opener last month and have won only once in their last 10 games.

However, Naismith will not be lulled into any sort of complacency.

Steven Naismith is set to make his 48th appearance for Scotland against Israel Steven Naismith is set to make his 48th appearance for Scotland against Israel

Steven Naismith is set to make his 48th appearance for Scotland against Israel

The former Kilmarnock, Rangers and Everton player said: “We will definitely not be taking it lightly.

“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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