IT is not often that you see Steve Clarke with a big grin on his face.

But hopefully he can start giving the Tartan Army a reason to smile in his first two games as Scotland manager against Cyprus and Belgium in the coming days.

At times, he looks like the world is on his shoulders. There is no doubt that he knows his stuff, though.

The first positive for Steve is that the players he selected have turned up and reported for duty this week.

It is easy for players at this time of the year to think that they have had a long, hard season and that they could do without playing for Scotland in these fixtures.

But they haven’t done that and I think that comes through a respect for the manager, his experience and the job that he has done at Kilmarnock in particular.

Steve moulded them, a squad of decent players but that didn’t have any real stars, into a successful team and the players will buy into him.

I would expect Scotland to follow that same blueprint and there will be a mixture of experience and youth and the one thing he does do is make teams hard to beat. That is what Walter Smith and Alex McLeish, first time around, did and while it wasn’t pretty to watch at times, it was effective for Scotland.

Cyprus at home is not the hardest of games for Steve to start out but the way Scotland have been playing recently shows they can’t take anything for granted. We can’t expect to just turn up and win.

The players have to prove themselves to the manager and he has had a few days to work with the squad now and to get his ideas across to players he will be learning about all the time.

The Scotland fans want to see good performances, of course they do. But they want results more and they want to see a side have a real go of getting through a section.

Scotland do have the players to achieve at international level and Steve won’t mess about with them.

He will tell them straight, and that is what they need. He is a good manager, he has got Alex Dyer and Steven Reid with him as well, and they will be desperate to get off to a winning start on Saturday night.

It might not be a great time of the year for the players, but it is an exciting one for Scotland and the manager and the squad have a job to do in these two fixtures.

Cyprus, obviously, is a must-win and if you were to offer us a goalless draw against Belgium, the number one ranked team in the world, every Scot would bite your hand off for it.

People will think we will get nothing going to Belgium on Tuesday night, so three points at Hampden is a must.

That is all we can focus on right now. Forget about Belgium.

That will be a completely different game and a night where Steve sets the team up to be solid, to get men behind the ball and to deny them space. If you give them too much space, they will rip you apart.

Steven showed at Kilmarnock that he can set a team up to stop the opposition playing and a goalless draw there would be a sensational result for Scotland.

But it is one game at a time for Steve. The Belgium game will look after itself and all the focus has to be on Hampden this weekend.

I hope there is a decent crowd there and the fans will be turning up expecting to see their team win.

It is all about the result against Cyprus and you give yourself something to build on so that the performances then follow.

Hopefully it is a positive start for Steve and Scotland at Hampden.