Scotland manager Steve Clarke believes his side can still achieve their Nations League objectives if they pick up their form again in the September internationals.
Clarke has named his squad for the home and away matches against group top seeds Ukraine, and the game at Hampden against Republic of Ireland later this month.
The remaining Nations League games will settle who is promoted to League A and joins Europe’s elite, as well as banking a play-off spot for Euro 2024, should it be needed. Scotland sit a point behind Ukraine in second place after beating Armenia once and losing to Republic of Ireland in June.
That Dublin defeat was a serious setback for Clarke and his players and the manager admits it halted what he had seen as steady progress during his time in charge.
“I have always said it is a squad that has progressed well over my tenure,” he said.
“If I am being honest about it, I felt that June was the first time we stopped.
“And now we have to pick up the mantle and start progressing through these three difficult matches.”
With three games left to play in a small group, there are plenty of permutations that could see Scotland finish top but Clarke wouldn’t underestimate the task ahead.
Prior to the loss to the Irish, Scotland had also suffered disappointment against Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final. Clarke looked at the positive side, and the knowledge that Scotland can write their own story.
“We are in a position where we have our destiny in our own hands and that’s all you can hope for,” he said.
“I am looking forward to difficult matches, good opponents and hopefully, like I said, I felt we stalled a little bit in the summer and it would be nice to pick up the progress again.
“We have to do better than we did in the summer and we have to pick up the points to top the group.
“We want to come out these matches first in the group and we have everything in front of us.”