Euros heartache fuelling World Cup dream, says Scotland striker Martha Thomas

Striker Martha Thomas heads in Scotland's fourth goal against Ukraine
Striker Martha Thomas netted twice in Scotland's 4-0 win over Ukraine on Friday

The heartache of failing to qualify for the 2022 Women's Euros is fuelling Scotland's drive to reach next year's World Cup, says striker Martha Thomas.

The 26-year-old scored a double in Friday's 4-0 victory against Ukraine, which all but secures a play-off spot for the finals in Australia and New Zealand.

Four first-half goals did the damage in a dominant performance Thomas believes is "definitely the best we've had" under Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa.

"We knew it was a must-win," the Manchester United forward told BBC Sportsound.

"It was important for us to start the game strong. It was the best start we could've had and we felt like we could've scored more in that first half.

"We felt a bit more tired than we normally would, but we really helped ourselves by being clinical in front of goal, creating chances and limiting Ukraine as well."

Scotland reached their first ever Women's World Cup in 2019 under former boss Shelley Kerr, but exited the competition at the group stage.

Failure to reach this summer's Euros resulted in the resignation of Kerr, with current head coach Martinez Losa tasked with guiding the Scots to a back-to-back World Cup finals.

Barring an unlikely defeat by the Faroe Islands in their final qualifier in September, a play-off place will be secured.

"We're going to have a big fire in our belly when we go to the Faroes," Thomas added. "We've got such a good group of girls not only off the field but also on the pitch. We've got belief in ourselves.

"We haven't had results go our way in the past. Not qualifying for the Euros was really disappointing. We're using that to fuel us to reach the play-offs for the World Cup."

From career doubts to Scotland stardom

Since making her Scotland debut in 2020, Thomas has gone on to gain 14 caps for her country while netting an impressive tally of nine goals.

The striker is "loving every second" of her international duties while living the dream of playing in the Women's Super League south of the border.

However, there were moments the former West Ham United forward, who grew up and started her career in America, doubted whether she would ever play professionally after an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury derailed her rise in the game.

"I tore my ACL in my last college game," Thomas said. "It's an injury no footballer wants to hear. At the time I had hopes to play professionally in America. That put a dampener on that because I was going to be out for over a year.

"But a scout reached out to me from Le Harve and I went there and finished my rehab off. I played for them a year later for about four months, then got picked up by West Ham.

"Football-wise it's the hardest thing I've gone through. I rarely had injuries so it was a big shock to the system, but I'm chuffed with how I reacted. Sometimes when you get knocked down it can make you stronger in the end."

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