Newcastle United's Matt Ritchie accepts Scotland will have to qualify for the World Cup the hard way

Matt Ritchie.
Matt Ritchie.

Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie reckons Scotland will have to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 the hard way.

The Scots got their qualification campaign off to a flyer back in September when they hammered Malta 5-1.

But they subsequently let themselves slip last weekend when they just salvaged a Hampden Park draw against Lithuania.

And Ritchie, who has been one of the Magpies' and Scotland's form men in recent times, believes getting out of Group F isn't going to be easy.

Although, he never expected it to.

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Ahead of tonight's match with Slovakia in Trnava the 27-year-old, who is in line to win his 13th cap, told the Scotsman: "You don’t ever qualify for a World Cup easily.

"You don’t do it by winning every game in the campaign, it just doesn’t work out that way.

"This is a tough group and we came across a little bump against Lithuania. Now we want to get back to winning ways.

"It’s a long campaign, it isn’t all about Saturday’s game or tonight’s game. But we want to pick up as many points as possible and we go into the game against Slovakia planning for a victory and expecting one as well.

“We were never going to get through this group without dropping points and we’ve done that now.

"Yes, we were the favourites and expected to win against Lithuania. So it was obviously a disappointing result, because we set out to get all three points, but football doesn’t always go the way you want it to.

“We need to start more aggressively against Slovakia, but we can’t afford to be too gung-ho. If you throw the kitchen sink in, then you can be caught on the counter and that nearly happened against Lithuania when they had a chance to make it 2-0."