Matt Phillips has insisted that Scotland have not yet relinquished all hope of pushing for a European Championships place.

Realistically it looks like any decent prospect of qualifying for next summer’s tournament automatically has come and gone for Scotland after Friday night’s 2-1 defeat to Russia at Hampden. 

The result leaves Scotland six points behind second-placed Russia with five remaining games to be played. 

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The top two teams will qualify meaning that the likeliest scenario for Scotland is a Nations League play-off, with a semi-final place already secured. 

Tonight’s game against Belgium seems like an unlikely place to find solace. 

Belgium are the runaway group leaders with five wins from five games and an array of talent that Scotland can only gawp at. 

“I don’t think there is any difficulty in keeping the motivation,” said Phillips. “We are playing for a place at a major tournament and everyone is still looking towards that. We have to believe and we’ll see what happens.

“We have to have belief. It is all we can do. We have to go and try and put right what went wrong on Friday night. 

"There were positives – some of the stuff in the first-half was really good. It was a mentality that we dropped off too much and invited them onto us.”

Scotland started well against Russia but fell apart after John McGinn scored an early goal. 

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There was a palpable apprehension, an inhibition about Scotland and although there was a late rally to try and pinch something from a game that Russia dominated for the bulk of the contest.

Russia were impressive at times – Aleksandr Golovin was far and away the eye-catching player of the match – but Belgium are capable of taking it to another level altogether.

Phillips, though, has maintained that in some ways there is liberation in a game in which Scotland are expected to be little more than whipping boys. 

“A lot of us come up against the best players in the world every week in the league that we are in,” he said. 

“We have got to believe in ourselves and go into the game trying to take some of the positives.

“We have got to believe in ourselves and go into the game with confidence and believe in what we are doing it. 

"There was positive aspects on Friday night and we have got to try and focus on that. It was a really good start. 

"We scored, we were playing well and then we dropped off. 

"It was always going to be difficult to continue doing what we were doing. 

"It is hard to keep the high pressing going but it is just one of those where we have to go away and try and have a look at it.”