Steve Clarke has called on Scotland to focus on what is ahead of them rather than looking backwards as they bid to end their European Championship qualifying campaign on a high.
Scotland find themselves four points adrift of third-place Cyprus in Group I after losing their last four matches, conceding 13 goals in the process.
But Clarke’s side have time to reverse their fortunes and restore confidence in the camp before the crucial Nations League play-offs in March, with three group games remaining – starting with San Marino’s visit to Hampden Park on Sunday.
With a third-place finish in the group and the chance to qualify for Euro 2020 via next year’s play-offs still possible for Scotland, Clarke is keen to look forward instead of dwelling on their recent defeats.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, he said: “The only way to turn the corner is to win matches.
“We can keep looking back and beating ourselves up or we can say ‘OK, everything that we want to achieve is still in front of us’.
“That’s the way I have to look at it. If you look at the possibilities, we have to go and win our next three games to finish third in the group – that’s still in front of us.
“If we win those three games we’ll get the positivity back around the place that we’re all striving to get.
“And if we do that we’re going into the play-off games in March, hopefully with two matches to secure qualification for Euro 2020.
“So everything is still in front of us, no matter how bad it’s been or how disappointed we are – we still have everything to play for.”
Following Scotland’s most recent defeat – Thursday’s 4-0 loss in Russia – Clarke called on his troops to ensure that was the “lowest of the low”.
He wants his players to learn from that result as they look to get back on track.
“What’s gone is gone, we have to learn from it,” added Clarke. “I think in adversity you always learn more about people sometimes than when things are positive.
“So we have to learn those lessons, stick together as a group and we have to turn the corner. And what better way to turn the corner than the game tomorrow night.”
Clarke said it was always his intention to make changes for the meeting with the group’s bottom side, regardless of recent results, as he announced Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin would come in for David Marshall on Sunday.
He added: “One that will be a definite change – and it was a pre-planned change – David Marshall will change and Jon McLaughlin will play.
“Because I need a second goalkeeper with more caps, more experience to play. That was always planned.”