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Scotland’s win in Austria set the standard ahead of Israel clash – coach Carver

Scotland v Slovakia – UEFA Nations League – Group 2 – League B – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

John Carver believes Scotland’s crucial win in Austria set the standard required for Saturday’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against Israel.

After a morale-boosting 1-0 victory in Vienna last month – thanks to a Lyndon Dykes penalty – Steve Clarke’s men sit in second place in Group F behind runaway leaders Denmark and with a Qatar 2022 play-off spot in their own hands.

Ahead of the match at a sold-out Hampden Park, Scotland coach Carver claimed confidence was high among a fully-fit squad, albeit defender Grant Hanley is suspended.

He said: “We are going into this game with a huge amount of confidence because if you go to Austria and get the performance and result that we got, then it gives you confidence.

“We keep talking about raising the bar and setting the standard and I think we did that in Austria in a difficult environment against an excellent team who did well in the Euros – so we knew it was going to be tough.

“But we set a standard and went there with no fear and that’s what impressed me more than anything.

“We took the game to them, we made it difficult for them, we created chances and, on another night, we could have got two or three.

“We do have some momentum and I am pleased with the fact that we have actually sold the stadium out.

“It is good for me because it will be the first time I have been involved at a game at Hampden with a full crowd.

“That just shows you how far we have come, how well the lads have done and it is nice to see that the fans and nation itself are getting right behind the team.”

After six fixtures and ahead of the double-header against Israel and then Faroe Islands away, the Scots are seven points behind the Danes, one ahead of Willi Ruttensteiner’s side and four ahead of Austria.

This will be the fifth game against Israel in a year with little between the sides, but Carver believes the recruitment of set-piece coach Austin MacPhee could make the difference.

He said: “We are looking at everything. We haven’t been great at set-plays but Austin has come in as a specialist so we are hoping that he might give us the edge.

“He has gone to Aston Villa, he has got off to a really good start, I think they have scored a couple of goals from set-plays so we are hoping that he is going to add something different, that’s why Steve brought him in.

“We have our own ideas of what we want to do and how we want to play and there might be one or two slightly different things in there.”

On the squad, Carver said: “We had a good training session this morning, everybody took part. There was nothing afterwards so everybody is in good shape.

“I am keeping my fingers crossed that we have a good week because you know what it is like, at any time someone could pull a hamstring or tear a groin.

“The guys are in good shape, they are full of confidence, we have a lot of guys coming back into the squad who are on a high and I will use Jack Hendry as an example, he has just played against Paris St Germain, against three of the best players in the world (Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe) and was outstanding and kept a clean sheet.

“Kieran (Tierney) is coming back from Arsenal on a good run – so players with confidence and that helps.”