Scotland v Poland
Thursday 8th October 2015, kick-off 7.45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Gibraltar v Scotland
Sunday 11th October, kick-off 7.45pm
Estadio Algarve, Portugal
Graeme Shinnie says there is ‘massive belief’ within the Scotland squad as they prepare to round up their European Qualifying campaign with games against Poland and Gibraltar.
The Aberdeen defender received his first international call-up for this week’s games after impressing for the Dons this season.
Shinnie’s last visit to Hampden Park saw him lift the 2015 William Hill Scottish Cup with Inverness Caledonian Thistle before completing his move to hometown club Aberdeen. He is hoping that Thursday night’s visit to Hampden will be just as memorable.
Speaking at today’s press conference, Shinnie said: “I’ve had some good results at Hampden and last year was the first time I’ve played down there so I’m hoping Thursday will be an even better result than last time!
“It’s a big task but we’ve still got hope of qualifying. I’ve watched the games previously and they’ve been good. The build up around the whole country has been great and there’s real optimism here. Thursday will be a big game and I’m sure all the players will be looking forward to it.
“There is massive belief. There are great players in this squad and a great manager and coaching staff behind that as well. The result away in Poland last time (a 2-2 draw in 2014), we’ll take massive confidence from that.”
Shinnie has been a stand-out performer for Aberdeen this season as his side have battled to the top of the Scottish Premiership table. Originally a left-back, Shinnie has moved into a more advanced role under Derek McInnes and is happy for Gordon to utilise his versatility for the national team:
“I’d just love to be on the pitch. That’s up to the manager and if he feels that is what he wants then that is up to him. Me personally I don’t mind where I play, I’ve done it at Aberdeen and there’s no reason why I can’t do it here. If I can play wherever he wants I’ll be happy.
“I just need to work hard in training and try and impress the manager as much as I can. Some of the players who have come in have come straight in at the deep end so that gives me hope.”
If he does feature against Poland on Thursday, Graeme will not be the first member of the Shinnie clan to win a cap. Older brother Andrew – now at Birmingham City – made one appearance for Scotland in a win over Luxembourg in 2012. He passed on some words of advice to his sibling following last week’s call-up news.
Graeme said: “I spoke to (Andrew) briefly when I got called up and he said go down and enjoy it; enjoy being around top players, enjoy training, enjoy the different experiences. I’m still young and learning the game and I can learn so much by being down here.
“Just being amongst these players, who are playing in Premiership, Championship and top level in Scotland is great. Ill enjoy it and work as hard as I can to show my worth to the squad.”