NICOLA Sturgeon has praised Scotland defender Stephen O'Donnell for an "articulate" post-match interview he gave in the aftermath of the goalless draw at Wembley.

Steve Clarke and his players were viewed as outsiders but managed to grind out a draw that keeps their hopes alive of making it out of Group D and into the knockout rounds for the first time.

O'Donnell came in for heavy criticism in the wake of the 2-0 loss to the Czech Republic on Monday but repaid the faith shown in him by Clarke by putting in an accomplished and assured performance.

Speaking to the BBC, O'Donnell admitted that it was impossible to avoid the disapproving messages concerning his place in the team.

"I think what is frustrating is that you see everything and it's hard to get away from it," he said. "It makes a massive difference when you've got a manager that beleves in you. 

"He constantly comes under attack for selecting me. I'm not saying the players aren't good enough to play - we saw Billy Gilmour coming in tonight, an outstanding young talent, and all these young boys can only be a good thing for the future of Scotland - but he gets lambasted.

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"Could I have been better against the Czech Republic? Yeah. Could the team have been better? Yeah. But we still had a lot of chances.

"I'm getting praised tonight but that will quickly change against Croatia. It means a lot too me that the team came up to me at the end of the game. They know the stick that I receive and I appreciate the support they give me.

"[Captain] Andy Robertson especially with a couple of words that he's said. It's tough. At 29 you'd think it would be easy but this is new to all of us.

"Most importantly, I'm happy to have repaid the manager. The rest of it is just noise. Thankfully I was able to do it for the manager and for my friends and family back home."

Posting on Twitter, the first minister shared the video clip with the following message of support for the Motherwell full-back.

"This @ScotlandNT team has so many role models who will inspire the next generation, on and off the pitch - and Stephen O’Donnell is one of them," Sturgeon wrote.

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"This is so articulate on dealing with pressure, the importance of self belief and having the support of these around you," followed by a clapping emoji.