BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
SKIPPER Darren Fletcher insists Scotland will target a win against Euro 2016 hosts France this weekend as they seek to learn the lessons of their toothless defeat to Italy.
The Scots endured a sobering experience against the star-studded Azzurri as they went down to a 1-0 defeat in their friendly in Malta on Sunday night.
Gordon Strachan’s outfit failed to register a single shot on target and had keeper David Marshall to thank for ensuring they did not suffer a heavier loss.
Fletcher, whose 72nd international outing drew him level with Tom Boyd as the country’s fifth most-capped player, played the full 90 minutes and confessed the match had highlighted some shortcomings in the Scotland ranks.
However, he is hopeful they will be addressed in time to face the much-fancied French in Metz on Saturday.
And the West Brom midfielder believes the steep learning curve of facing such top-quality opposition will prove beneficial when the World Cup qualifying campaign gets under way in the autumn.
The 32-year-old said: “It’s a good test, it gets you ready. You learn more about yourself in defeat and against top-class sides.
“We’re going to have to do a lot of recovery now, there’s a few tired legs, but the motivation is high.
“We’ll look over this game, learn from it and go and try to win in France.
“We’re playing against another top-class side and we’ll pit ourselves against them. It’s great preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.”
Many have questioned the wisdom of extending the players’ already-long season to take on these energy-sapping friendlies against Italy and France.
However, even in defeat, Fletcher insists the matches will prove worthwhile experiences.
In an interview with www.scottishfa.co.uk, the former Manchester United star added: “The positives? Just the experience of it and learning how to play against the system that Italy played, and playing in these conditions out here.
“When you lose football games you learn from them and playing against a top-class side there’s plenty to learn from.
“But one thing about our lads, the spirit, the determination, the dedication’s there, we just need to improve a little bit on the ball and keep possession at times a bit better, and maybe engage them a bit higher up the pitch and not be as deep.
“So, there’s plenty to learn.”