RYAN CHRISTIE has travelled to Russia with an eye on the future, and very much on putting some unfortunate recent events behind him for both club and country.

The attacking midfielder has been in stunning form for Celtic this season, but blotted an otherwise exemplary copybook by picking up an early and thoroughly deserved red card against Livingston on Sunday, leaving his 10 teammates to fall to a shock defeat.

Turning his mind to international duty may have been a welcome distraction from that aberration, but given Scotland’s recent fortunes, there is likely to be little respite from the doom and gloom of the past few days for Christie.

He is determined to ensure that all changes though with a morale-boosting result in the Luzhniki Stadium tonight, and not only for his own state of mind. The 24-year-old was an enthusiastic supporter of Steve Clarke’s appointment as Scotland boss, and he wants to give the Tartan Army reason to maintain their own belief that the man who worked miracles at Kilmarnock can repeat the feat on the international stage.

“When people were calling for him to be given the Scotland job, I was one of them,” Christie said. “It was a no-brainer for me after seeing how well he did at Rugby Park.

“If he can mould us as a group into a team that’s as difficult to beat as his Kilmarnock team was then we have a good chance of progressing.

“We have the feeling throughout the squad that we just want to get a good run going and get everyone believing in us again because, when you look around the changing room, you see the quality that we possess.

“It’s just about transferring that on to the pitch and the manager is doing his part by coaching us properly in how to do that so, hopefully, by the end of this campaign we’ll be in a much better place.”

It may be hard for Scotland fans to bear this in mind at the moment, but a much better place already awaits in March, with a play-off spot already secured through winning their UEFA Nations League group.

Christie believes therefore that there is more at stake in these remaining qualification group matches than simple pride and ranking points.

He said: “After we’d lost to Russia and Belgium, the manager’s main message to us was: ’Look, we have four games left to get ourselves into top shape and win as many points as we can so that we’re going into these vital play-off games in the best possible condition.

“It kind of suits us now that the get-togethers are coming every month because it gives the gaffer more time to work with us and for us to work with each other.

“The extra time together should help us. The gaffer has been absolutely tremendous to work with in the camps so far and every single player has noticed that. The biggest shame for me about the last two games is that we didn’t get the results for him because we’d been in such good spirits at training during the build-up.

“Now the only way to put that right is to go to Moscow and get a positive result and start to build some momentum.”

For now, the Scots are holding onto any positives they can, and Christie believes that despite the disappointment of the last double-header against Russia and Belgium, there were kernels of what Clarke’s side just may be capable of if they can put it all together over a whole match.

“If we could sustain the way we started against Russia for 90 minutes then we’d be a very good side,” he said. “And it sounds ridiculous but, even against Belgium, we had an excellent five minutes before they hit us on the break, but that’s something we’re going to have to become more aware of.

“We need to become more adaptable and to develop consistency for the majority of spells during matches rather than just playing well in flashes. If we can do that then we’ll start getting the results we want.

“The talent is definitely there, and I don’t think we’re far away from putting it all together. Like I say, if we can play like we did at the start against the Russians at Hampden for the whole game on Thursday then we’ll do all right.”