The Scotland striker James McFadden admits it will take more than the backing of Marcello Lippi to reach the European Championships next summer.
Lippi, who guided Italy to their World Cup win last year, said this week: "If you look around the world, it is clear the emerging country is Scotland." Alex McLeish's side is in third place in their Euro 2008 qualifying group and play Lithuania on Saturday before facing leaders France in Paris next Wednesday.
The Everton striker, 24, cautiously welcomed the compliment from one of football's most successful coaches. He said: "I think it's a fair comment. Obviously he is one of the best managers in the world and it is nice to hear that and get a bit of praise for the work that the players and staff have done. But we can't just say, 'Marcello Lippi says we are one of the emerging nations'. We have to prove that is the case by getting to these championships and hopefully we could do it.
"To take praise like that you have to achieve something. We've got a chance but it's not going to be easy. We have to believe that we are going to do it or else we won't do it."
McFadden bemoaned the loss of Derby striker Kenny Miller, who withdrew with a hamstring injury. However, the Everton player hopes he has moved closer to a starting spot.
"Losing Kenny will be a big blow," he said. "He has done well for us of late, worked hard and scored a lot of goals. But that's the whole point of having a squad. There is always players waiting to come in to prove they should be in the team and that includes me.
"I played against South Africa last month, but the last time I played before that was against Ukraine. That's what happens when you are injured or suspended and that could be the same with Kenny."Reuse content