Red hot Steven Naismith inspires Scotland’s 2-0 Uefa Nations League win over Albania
PUBLISHED: 21:37 10 September 2018 | UPDATED: 22:02 10 September 2018
Norwich City midfielder Steven Naismith marked his international comeback with a goal in Scotland’s opening Uefa Nations League win over Albania at Hampden Park on Monday night.
Man of the match Naismith continued his prolific start to the season, on loan at Hearts, with a second half header from close range after his earlier effort deflected off Berat Djimsiti.
The 31-year-old also saw a first half header slam against the post with Albanian keeper Thomas Stakosha beaten in an impressive return to the international scene.
Naismith had scored seven goals in eight appearances for the Jambos after sealing a second loan spell following his previous stint in Edinburgh towards the end of last season.
The former Everton midfielder is out of favour at Carrow Road under Daniel Farke and out of contract at the end of this season.
Naismith arrived in Norfolk for a reported £8.5m in January 2016 but has never established himself in the Canaries’ starting line up.
The attacking midfielder was not orginally named in Alex McLeish’s initial Scotland squad but featured in last Friday’s 4-0 friendly defeat to Belgium.
“I think some people got carried away after that. We were playing one of the best teams in the world,” he said, speaking to Skysports after the win. “We got a lesson. If you don’t want to test yourself against them then there is no point in being part of the squad.
“This was the business end. A lot of credit goes to the younger boys who showed character to keep trying to play with the ball. I thought we looked in ccontrol for most of the game.
“It is still very early. We have not been together for that long but overall we are happy with the direction we are going in. I don’t care if I scored one or two. I am just glad we won.
“For me, you just have to work hard and take your opportunities. I worked hard in training and I got a start.”
McLeish hailed the former Rangers’ attacker’s impact.
“I spoke to Naisy in the summer about coming on tour with us to South America,” said the Scotland boss. “He said he wanted to get his heel rested over the summer, if I didn’t mind, but he asked to be considered. I told him if he started the season well, we’ll look at you. I didn’t have him in the original squad, but some things are meant to be.”
Scotland’s next fixture in a three-team group is away to Israel on October 11 and McLeish’s side will travel with a lot more confidence than they had after being dismantled by the Red Devils.