Billy Stark says his side will be ready for their final two UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifiers next month despite succumbing to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Belgium last night.
A second-half Ziggy Badibanga strike was enough to hand Belgium the win in a match that saw Scotland and Hearts goalkeeper Mark Ridgers stretchered off just before half time with a knee injury.
Scotland were without several key players for the friendly with top goal-scorer Jordan Rhodes being involved in the senior squad’s match against Australia this evening and Dundee United duo Johnny Russell and Gary Mackay-Steven who were both nursing knocks after their Europa League match with Dynamo Moscow last week.
Despite the defeat, Stark was keen to draw on the positives as his attention turns to Scotland’s remaining qualifying matches against Luxembourg and Austria with a play-off spot for Euro 2013 still up for grabs.
He said: “It was a disappointing result but we were up against a really good side last night.
“However, I felt there were a lot of positives to take from the game.
“Peter Pawlett played the full match, his first 90 minutes of the season, and performed well and Murray Wallace also came in and did a good job on his under-21 debut.
“Jamie Ness returned to the squad and put in a good shift and we were also able to give game time to Michael O’Halloran, Cameron Park and Tony Watt.
“Of course the big disappointment of the night was losing Mark Ridgers.
“He’s been great for us and hopefully his injury isn’t too serious but we’ll need to wait and see on that front.
“In saying that, Jordan Archer came on and played well so we know he can step in if required for our games next month.”
Should Scotland claim maximum points from their remaining qualifiers, they will be in with a chance of claiming one of the four play-off spots made available to the best-placed runners-up from the ten qualifying groups.
The first match is at St Mirren Park on Thursday, 6th September against Luxembourg, who Scotland beat 5-1 away from home earlier in the campaign, before travelling to Austria four days later.
“We go into the first game knowing that if we can win then the game against Austria becomes our cup final,” said Stark.
“We have done well to put ourselves into a position that gives us an opportunity to reach the play-offs and we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.
“The Belgium match was always about preparation for the games against Luxembourg and Austria and I believe it will stand us good stead for next month.”