Scotland's Mark McGhee motivated by Euro 2016 pain

Gordon Strachan, Mark McGhee
National coach Gordon Strachan and Mark McGhee start their campaign against Malta
World Cup qualifying Group F: Malta v Scotland
Date: Sunday, 4 September Venue: Ta'Qali National Stadium, Attard Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee says the national team will be spurred on by the pain of missing out on the European Championship finals.

He hopes that motivation will drive the players on when the World Cup qualifiers start on Sunday in Malta.

"It was painful," McGhee said. "I did my best to enjoy the Euros, but I was jealous of nations that were there.

"I kept trying to superimpose us on certain games and wondering just what we might have achieved."

Along with Scotland and Malta, Group F contains England, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania. McGhee acknowledges the importance of making a positive start to the campaign but says a win over bottom seeds Malta should not be taken for granted.

"We're under no illusions, we've looked at the video, we've done an analysis of Malta, we know their strengths and weaknesses and we'll prepare for a difficult game but one we're determined to try to win," McGhee said.

"If we do win, it will represent a very positive start and you need that in a campaign.

"We've made it clear to the players that they will be a more serious proposition than Gibraltar were. Anybody who thinks it's just about turning up, they're badly mistaken.

"They're very tactical, they play an unusual shape. They have a bit of physicality in their back three, they have a centre-forward who will run in behind. They have a bit of everything.

"Tactically, we have to make sure that we understand their shape and then we've got to impose our abilities and strengths on them. We're going there to win the game."

McGhee says that, with a lower average age, there is an "enthusiasm and energy" about the squad as they prepare to start the qualifying campaign.

Tony Watt
Mark McGhee has been impressed with Tony Watt's performances for Hearts this season

He admits that the withdrawals of Leigh Griffiths, Kevin McDonald, James McArthur and Kieran Tierney is a "disappointment" but urged the remaining players to "step up" and take their opportunity, with Lee Wallace and Tony Watt having been called up as replacements.

McGhee said that two conversations with Watt during the summer convinced him that the player's attitude and mentality were right to be included in the squad again, if the opportunity arose.

He has since been impressed with the Charlton Athletic forward's form since he joined Hearts on loan but added that Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack is not out of the international frame despite not being called up.

"We've been big fans of Tony since we first picked him," said McGhee. "We brought him in for a training camp in an early squad. He had certain issues at that time.

"I had a couple of conversations with him over the summer, quite long conversations, and I reported back to Gordon [Strachan] that what I was hearing was responsible, mature, a change in a sense.

"It's no surprise to me that he's doing well where he is and he's at a level now where we can bring him in. We're delighted to have that type of player in the form he's in now.

"During the summer, we had a meeting where we drew up a list of those we feel we need to watch regularly, to assess and see how they're playing. That list was 45 players long and there are only 24 of those players here.

"So there's a lot more than just Ross not here. We've got a long campaign, 10 games, and I'd imagine that, by the end of those games, we'll have used maybe 40 for the squads.

"There will be people here next time who aren't here today and people who are here today and won't be next time.

"On this occasion, the manager has picked a group of players who he thinks are appropriate for this game."