STUART Armstrong has some clear objectives for this international break; he wants to reclaim his place in the Scotland side, ensure the national team beat Austria, Israel and the Faroe Islands in their opening Group F matches and help get the Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign off to a good start.

But the midfielder has already done his country a service and boosted their chances of reaching the next World Cup finals without even kicking a ball – by persuading his Southampton team mate Che Adams to pledge his allegiances to his adopted homeland.

The Leicester-born forward, who qualifies to play for Scotland because of a maternal grandparent who hails from Edinburgh, was a something of a surprise inclusion by Steve Clarke in his 26-man squad last week.

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The 24-year-old striker, who has netted seven goals in the Premier League in the 2020/21 campaign, has previously represented the England Under-20 team and had rebuffed approaches from the SFA twice in the past four years.

Yet, Armstrong has revealed how he helped Clarke to secure the services of the free-scoring forward by giving him positive feedback on the set-up during training ground chats.

“I spoke to him a few times at our training ground, little bits here and there,” he said. “Every time he asked about the squad and how things were going I could only give him good words. It was a big decision for him and one he had to make himself. We are all very happy he has made the decision he has.

“He asked me general questions about the Scotland squad, as you generally do coming into a new place. I had nothing but good words to say about the squad. We are in a great place and the atmosphere is great. 

“We have the Euros to look forward to and a very exciting campaign is about to begin. I only had positive things to say and I am sure he has seen that for himself now that he has joined up with the squad.”

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Armstrong added: “It is a different atmosphere and environment. It is always difficult when you come into a new set-up but as a group we are very welcoming. We look after new players because in most camps there have been one or two fresh faces. 

“He will have played against a few of the boys before and he knows me, so although he is new to the squad he does know a few of the boys. That always helps to have that level of comfort when you are in new surroundings.

“All the Southampton players are happy for him. It is a big decision to make but it is a very good decision. There were a lot of happy faces at Southampton and everybody is delighted for him.”

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There is no guarantee that Adams will start up front for Scotland against Austria at Hampden tomorrow evening; Lyndon Dykes of Queens Park Rangers has done superbly since joining the set-up last year and should get the nod to lead the line. Elsewhere, Oli McBurnie and Kevin Nisbet will be hoping to feature.

However, Armstrong knows that the new recruit, who has been on target against Chelsea, Newcastle United and Manchester City in the past six months, has a great deal to offer the national side in future either as a lone predator or as part of a two man strikeforce.

“Che is a very powerful player and holds the ball up really well,” he said. “He has good pace, a powerful shot and is a very good finisher, as he has shown recently at club level.  He brings a good package. He is a player who is also in good form.

“For us, he plays up front in a two. I know he has also played upfront on his own previously as well, so I am sure both those roles will suit him. As I said, he is quick, agile and strong  and I know he can adapt to a number of different roles and wherever he is asked to play.” 

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Armstrong’s last international appearance was in the Nations League match against Slovakia in Trnava back in November – a game that Scotland dominated but lost 1-0 after squandering several scoring opportunities.

The 22-times capped 28-year-old appreciates the national team must become less profligate in attack to have any chance of building on Euro 2020 qualification and making it through to the World Cup for the first time since France ’98. He is optimistic Adams can help them be more ruthless in front of goal.

“I would worry a lot more if we weren’t creating the chances,” he said. “We do create, but ultimately it is taking that final step of taking the chances when they come along. At this level, sometimes chances are few and far between. Being more clinical is definitely an aim and if we can do that it should push us up the standings and give us a better chance of qualifying.

“I am sure if Che gets the opportunity he will do everything he can to try and influence the games by scoring goals. That is what he is asked to do at club level and I’m sure that will be his objective now with Scotland.

“He is a very good player. He has shown he is a very good player in the Premier League scoring goals and having a real positive influence on games for Southampton. 

“In the end it is international football and it is a different environment but it is still a game of football.  When a player is in good form and has a lot of confidence then it always makes things easier.”