BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Gibraltar manager Jeff Wood insists a glowing appraisal from Martin O’Neill proves that the European minnows are getting better.
Scotland complete their Euro 2016 Group D campaign in what could be a crucial match against the British Overseas Territory in Portugal on Sunday.
Should results go the way of Gordon Strachan’s side tomorrow, victory in Faro could seal a play-off place in the section.
But basement side Gibraltar, who are made up mainly of players from their part-time domestic league, do not intend to make life easy for Scotland and former Colchester and Exeter City goalkeeper Wood insists his side are beginning to get used to international football.
Wood, who only took over the reins in July and is assisted by Scotsman Davie Wilson, points to last month’s 4-0 defeat to Ireland as an example of how much they have improved.
He said: “I think the guys have got better, they have grown into it.
“I think a lot of them were looking very nervous when they first started and I think gradually they’ve got to a stage where they feel they should be on the pitch competing against these guys.
“When we played Ireland in the last sets of qualifiers, (Ireland manager) Martin O’Neill actually came into our changing room afterwards and congratulated the players on how they’d gone about trying to get a result, and I thought it was an absolutely fantastic gesture.
“All credit to the players because they really did work very hard at the game plan.
“Yes, we lost 4-0 but I think tiredness crept into that because we hadn’t played any competitive domestic league games.”
Gibraltar have conceded 46 goals in eight matches so far but Wood insists he will give his team licence to attack Scotland.
Wood, a former goalkeeping coach at Norwich City, added: “It is a learning process for us, we’re trying to change the philosophy of parking the bus and only defending.
“We are trying to cause teams problems now and that is reflected in the stats with the possession and the shots on target.
“We’re taking small steps but we are making progress, that’s for sure.”