ANDY Robertson said last night that Scotland must be prepared to suffer if they are to get anything from tonight’s pivotal Euro 2020 qualifier against Belgium in Brussels. The national team captain is renowned as an attacking presence on the left flank, an impression he reinforced when lashing in a fine goal for his country against Cyprus on Saturday. But he hinted here yesterday that at times Steve Clarke’s game plan will be more about the team sitting in their shape and defending deep in order to deny space to a Belgium team who can call themselves the best team in the world.

Pointing out that even Liverpool spent huge chunks of their Champions League final victory in Madrid camped in their own defensive area as they protected a one-goal lead, Robertson feels there is no need for Scotland to get frustrated by such an approach – so long as they are also frustrating their opponents.

“It is still very early in terms of what he [Clarke] wants, how he wants to get his points across to us,” said Robertson. “But we believe we have taken a lot of information on board and we will try to implement it. On Saturday against Cyprus, we maybe showed them a little bit too much respect and we have to go after them at times. It will be the same tomorrow night.

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“But there will be no surprise if Belgium have more possession,” he added. “We know we will have a lot of time without the ball. And now now is maybe the time to get in our formation and stay compact, something we have probably not done for a couple of years now. At times, even playing for Liverpool, that is what has to happen. At times in the final, against Tottenham, that was what happened, we had to do that, sit in our shape.

“Our manager is obviously big on attacking play but he also says you have to suffer in games. We will probably have to suffer a lot longer than a team like Liverpool do. But we all have to suffer in a game if that is what we have to go. We can’t afford to get frustrated – especially we can’t get frustrated at frustrating them.

“Sitting in our shape, and maybe not getting a touch of the ball, we can’t get frustrated at that. Because that is what we are going to need to do. Then when we do have it, we need to make the right passes.”

There are, of course, risks to employing such an approach. “Mentally you need to be switched on at all times, because you have players like [Eden] Hazard and [Kevin] De Bruyne who are so quick minded, that if you switch off for a split second it is like something goes off in their head and they can feel that. We have to be 100% switched on at all times. If we can do that, the longer the game goes on, the longer we keep them at bay, then hopefully the more confidence we can grow into this game.”

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As daunting a prospect as it is to take on Belgium on home soil – where they haven’t lost a competitive match for nine years – if anyone has the belief that he can mix it at this level it is Robertson. A victor – alongside team-mates Simon Mignolet and Divock Origi - over Tottenham’s Belgian duo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in Madrid two weeks ago, Robertson chalked up a two-goal victory over new Real Madrid superstar Eden Hazard as recently as April. He feels it is high time that other members of the squad, who might not necessarily have played at such a lofty level, demonstrate that belief too.

“I wouldn’t say it makes it any easier for me but I at least have the confidence of playing against these players at week in, week out so I’m used to it along with some of the other lads” he said. “The other lads who maybe aren’t used to it need to rely on their own ability a wee bit more and believe in themselves. I hope we’re brave on the ball and brave in defending and if we are then we hope that we can make it a frustrating night for them.”

“We don’t come over here and just say ‘we want to keep the score down’. We want to come and get a result. We’ve got ourselves back in the group with the win over Cyprus and it’s all about kicking on from here. If we can get a result over here then it will put is in a really good position in the group and everyone will start looking at it very differently. We know how hard it’s going to be but we need to aim to get a result, whether that’s a draw or a win, and we’ll be trying everything we can.”

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Robertson reflected on his first Hampden goal for his country - and his first at the national stadium since a fine goal in a 1-1 draw against Elgin City. “The game was just waiting for a spark I think and surprisingly I kind of gave it,” he said. “I haven’t scored many this season and I’d like to add more to it, it is only my first goal this season, but it was a special moment for me.

“I caught it clean and I was delighted to see it hit the back of the net. And luckily it gave us a big step towards the three points. I saw the clip of the goal against Elgin, I was quite aggressive in the celebrations! At least now I can say I have my first Scotland goal at Hampden.”