Naismith urges Scots to rally behind 2012 effort

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The Independent Football

Steven Naismith has called on the whole nation to back Scotland's attempt to qualify for Euro 2012 rather than "slate" Scottish football.

The reputation of the game north of the border took a battering when Celtic, Rangers and Hearts were all knocked out of the Europa League, although Celtic may yet be handed a reprieve if their victorious opponents Sion are thrown out of the competition.

But, as the national team prepares to face the Czech Republic and Lithuania in a crucial double-header at Hampden, the striker insists now is the time to back Scottish football as a whole, saying yesterday: "No matter what state the football is in in Scotland, you need everybody to be pushing in the right direction. There are times when criticism is fair and it needs to be said, but there are other times when we all need to be pushing in the right way, we need to back everybody that's involved with Scottish football.

"Scottish football has taken a bit of a kicking over the last week or so but I think if you look at Rangers last year, we competed with Manchester United and Valencia. There are things that need to change all the way through Scottish football, but we have known that for more than the last week."

Scotland and the Czech Republic are vying for second place behind Group I leaders Spain to secure a play-off spot. The Czechs head into tomorrow's match with nine points, while the Scots sit on four, having played a game less. Naismith said: "The players are definitely of that mindset that we can get full points in these two games."