Norwich City captain Russell Martin wants to pave the way for Scotland’s 2018 World Cup quest

Russell Martin battles for the ball with Czech Republic's Tomas Necid (left) during Scotland's 1-0 f

Russell Martin battles for the ball with Czech Republic's Tomas Necid (left) during Scotland's 1-0 friendly win in Prague back in March, against the Euro 2016 finalists. - Credit: PA

Russell Martin aims to enjoy his little taste of the Euro 2016 atmosphere – but only has eyes for the World Cup from here.

The Norwich City captain and his Scotland team-mates travel to Metz to face European Championship hosts France on Saturday night, before finally signing off for the summer.

Gordon Strachan's side has only a watching brief for Euro 2016 and was lucky to leave Malta on Sunday with just a 1-0 friendly defeat at the hands of Italy.

But with an autumn start to their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they will face Euro 2016 Group B rivals England and Slovakia, the Scots cannot afford to ignore all the action in France. England face Slovakia in their final group game on Monday, June 20 in St Etienne – before the pair join Scotland in World Cup qualifying Group F with Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.

'This game with France will get us ready physically and mentally,' said the 30-year-old City defender, set for his 25th cap in Metz.


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'We learnt a lot on Sunday night about a different formation. And especially this time of year, you don't want to be coming away and playing friendlies that don't have any meaning for you.

'I know we have not qualified but these teams are gearing up for the European Championship and we are playing against top teams.

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'So we have to be up and at it or else we are going to be on the receiving end of some wrong results.

'These are the teams you want to be testing yourselves against because once the qualifiers come around, we are going to be playing against teams of this calibre and we need to make sure we have got a chance of qualifying for the World Cup.'

Many have France as their favourites for this summer's European Championships, which begin when the hosts open Group A against Romania in Paris on Friday week.

Scotland's clash on Saturday will be the final warm-up for the French.

'It will be a step up in terms of intensity and tempo because they are obviously the home nation,' added the City skipper. 'It's going to be a great atmosphere, they have sold it out and it will be a little taster of what the atmosphere is going to be like at the Euros. So we need to be at it from the start and we know that.

'It's a different system to Italy. France have probably got a little bit more flair in attack, but probably not as good defensively as the Italians.

'So it's a different test but it's against a formation we have played against many times so we have to go there and be prepared.

'We need to try to impose our own game a little bit more than we did on Sunday in terms of getting on the ball, movement and keeping the ball a bit better then hopefully getting a few chances ourselves.

'We will go there and we will have a go. It will be an extremely tough game and we need to take into account who we are playing against.

'But hopefully on Saturday we put on a better show with the ball and keep that spirit and doggedness without it.'

Robert Snodgrass as joined up with the Scotland squad, having helped Hull to Premier League promotion in Saturday's play-off final at Wembley over Sheffield Wednesday.

• Follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

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