Martin in line to start for Scotland

Scotland boss Craig Levein believes Norwich City defender Russell Martin is an 'international player' in the making.

Martin could earn his first start in tomorrow's winner-takes-all Carling Nations Cup finale against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. Levein handed the 25-year-old his senior debut as a late substitute in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Wales after drafting Martin into the squad following an impressive season in the Canaries' promotion-winning success.

Martin replaced Stephen Crainey in midweek and with Crainey having left the squad to undergo scheduled surgery and full-back rivals Stephen Whittaker and Phil Bardsley both carrying knocks, Levein admitted he would have no fears throwing Martin into the fray.

'He is a very good player, that is why he was in the squad,' said Levein. 'I had hoped to get him on (against Wales). You can never say for certain that you are going to make a particular substitution but I am glad he got some game time.

'I have watched him on numerous occasions and we feel he is capable of being an international player. We have a few problems. Gary Caldwell and Charlie (Adam) look unlikely to play. There is also a little concern over James Morrison. It's like any other game, I will wait and get an indication from our medical team just exactly who is going to be available and select the players from there.


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'The good thing for me is that we have a particularly strong group with us and if I should miss a few players I should have able replacements. It's just the nature of the game. If we lose players, we lose players and we have people capable of taking their place.'

Levein has defended the end-of-season 'Home Nations' tournament which has attracted paltry crowds to Dublin's Aviva stadium.

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'That's not for me to comment on,' he said. 'I'm pleased with how the tournament has gone so far but the most important game is the next one.

'From my perspective it has been a first class competition – for me and for my players.

'My players want to win the tournament. They are used to winning. If you go through my squad we have players who are used to winning and who have enjoyed successful seasons. That is why I believe the national team is slowly inching forward.

'My intention is that the Scotland team competes in every match that is plays. I don't think you can drop your standards for friendlies and then expect to pick them up again for competitive games.

'The idea is to instil in the players a competitive nature that makes them want to win every match.'

Both Scotland and the Republic go into the the winner-takes-all final group game with previous wins over Northern Ireland and Wales in the round-robin format.

Wales beat Northern Ireland 2-0 in front of a crowd of just 529 last night to avoid the wooden spoon. Goals in either half from skipper Aaron Ramsey and Robert Earnshaw settled a low-key match which saw City's Owain Tudur Jones play half an hour as a second half substitute.

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