Cyprus v Scotland: Johnny Russell says criticism of players 'unwarranted'

Johnny Russell was so desperate to play during the last round of fixtures he aggravated an injury
Johnny Russell, right, was so desperate to play during the last round of fixtures he aggravated an injury
Euro 2020 qualifying: Cyprus v Scotland
Venue: GSP Stadium, Nicosia Date: Saturday, 16 November Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, live text commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website & app.

Criticism of players dropping out of the Scotland squad is "unfair" and "unwarranted", Sporting Kansas forward Johnny Russell says.

Captain Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay, Ryan Fraser and Liam Cooper have all withdrawn from the final two Euro 2020 qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.

Russell is himself battling two injuries, including a muscle tear.

"People want to be there and represent their country," he told BBC Scotland.

"I haven't come across anyone, and there isn't anyone I believe in this squad, who would pull out at the drop of a hat.

"I feel it is unfair criticism. It's not just a case of boys saying they don't fancy it this time. There are a lot of different things that go into it. For me it's unwarranted."

Russell admitted he was so desperate to feature in the last round of international fixtures that he tried to play through the pain of an injury, but during the warm-up against San Marino felt a sharp pain in his groin.

The resulting scan revealed a tear in his adductor and lower stomach damage - ruling him out of the matches against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.

"I know myself I wouldn't have been able to do myself or the team justice if I was there," he said. "I can still feel it even going on little jogs - it's now just all about getting it right and getting ready for pre-season in January and the play-off games in March.

"We're players but we're still Scotland fans and we still want Scotland to do well and qualify for major tournaments - we went into that group with every belief we could qualify from it.

"It wasn't to be and that's down to us players. Character is tested when things aren't going well - the boys and the staff have stuck together, we're all trying to get the country back to where we want it to be."

You can hear the full interview on Sportsound from 18:30 GMT on BBC Radio Scotland

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