DAVID Marshall, the Scotland goalkeeper, last night admitted the national team will have to raise their performance level significantly to avoid a demoralising defeat against France in their next game.

Gordon Strachan's side lost 1-0 to Euro 2016 finalists Italy in a friendly international at the Ta' Qali Stadium in Malta after conceding a second half goal to Graziano Pelle.

However, Marshall and his team mates didn't manage a single shot on target against Antonio Conte's team and were fortunate not to be overcome by a far heavier scoreline.

The Cardiff City man knows there can be no repeat of the lacklustre performance when they take on France in Metz this Saturday in their final warm-up match before their Russia 2018 qualifying campaign.

“It was a long night and there’s no doubt we’ll need to raise it significantly for the France game," said Marshall. “This is their last qualifier, it’s in front of their own fans and they’ll be looking to enter the Euros on a real high.

“We obviously can’t afford to sit off them and we’ll need to raise it for sure. France won’t sit back and they’ll be more attacking than Italy."

He added: “It was a tough old night and it felt like a long one, especially in the first half when, if we’re totally honest, we couldn’t really get near them. We couldn’t get a hold of the ball therefore we couldn’t put any pressure on them.

“From that point of view it was disappointing because we feel we’re better than that. I suppose just to keep it to 1-0 in the end was a positive when you look at the balance of play.

“Listen, they are a quality side with some exceptional players – they’re at the Euros for a reason. We were under a lot of pressure in that first half and it was a case of digging in at times.

“That we showed that kind of resolve was pleasing. We did get on the ball a bit more after the break but 1-0 was pleasing in the end. That said, you never like to lose any game.”

Marshall produced a fantastic double save from Antonio Candreva and Emanuele Giaccherini early in the first half - blocks which were described as "world-class" by Walter Zenga on Italian television.

“It’s nice to hear from someone like him," he said. “It was just instincts to be honest. The six yard box was absolutely packed and I couldn’t really see a path to the ball.

“The penalty box had been heavily watered before kick off and it was saturated. I didn’t think I’d be able to hold on to it and although I saw it late my first thought was just to beat it away.

“It went to another of their players but I managed to get up and make the save again. Listen, goalkeepers love to make saves, especially early on so in that regard it was disappointing to lose one in the second half.”

Meanwhile, Callum Paterson, the Hearts right back who made his Scotland debut, has insisted that Strachan's players will learn from the experience of playing a leading football nation.

“Italy have a massive squad full of winners and very experienced players so it was great to get an opportunity to play against them,” he said.

“They are World Cup winners, they’ve won leagues with their clubs, it was just great to get on the pitch and play with such experienced players. We handled ourselves well, especially in the first half. It was just good to get the opportunity.”

“They are very experienced players and champions and to lose only 1-0 was in no way bad for us and it showed how strong we are defensively. We just have to take our chances in the final third.”