Christian Keeps The Faith

CHRISTIAN Dailly is hoping to line up for Scotland against Belarus on Saturday at Hampden Park and then in Slovenia four days later, knowing that the Scots must win both games to stand a chance of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup Finals.

But Dailly, who already has 57 senior caps for Scotland to his name, insists Walter Smith's side still firmly believe in their ability to qualify for next year's Finals and admits that the Hampden Park atmosphere is going to be crucial to their chances.

"I can't wait for the game," he admitted. "I have always loved going away with Scotland and with the two massive games coming up it's a really exciting time for Scottish football.

"We've had a couple of really positive results recently and it's given the squad a lot of confidence. But we would always going into these games believing that we have a chance, because we do.

"We know what's required of us - to win both games - and that's going to be the only thing in our minds when we go out there.

"It's going to help us that the first game is at home at Hampden Park. We'll be looking to set ourselves up with a win there, and then take that into the game in Slovenia.

"Both games will be tough, every game at international level is hard, especially when there's so much riding on the matches.

"But we're going into Saturday's match with our tails up and we're not looking any further than hopefully achieveing a win over Belarus.

"It's going to be a massive game for Scotland. They'll be a magnificent atmosphere at Hampden, as there always is, and hopefully we can put in a performance to match."

Casting his mind back to domestic affairs, Christian goes into the run of international games off the back of back-to-back draws with the Hammers. And although the Scots will need more than that this weekend, the 31-year-old midfielder believes a point gained from both Arsenal and Sunderland are solid results for Alan Pardew's men.

"Sunderland was a really tough game," he admitted, "but taking a point from an away game in the Premier League has to go down as a good result.

"We didn't play as well as we have been, but we kept battling and the longer the game went on the more we got back into it.

"We were quite solid and as long as we kept it down to 1-0 there was always a chance that we could get back into it, which is exactly what we did.

"It was important to keep our unbeaten run going, especially as it was against another newly-promoted team, because there is a mental aspect of not losing against a team who are striving for the same aim this season."

In a business driven by results Christian knows that the point gained against Sunderland could turn out to be very valuable come the end of the season. But he has also seen plenty in West Ham United's performances this season to feel encouraged, even if he hasn't been a regular in the starting line-up.

"Results is what it's all about," he explained. "You can play well and come away with nothing, as we did against Bolton at home earlier in the season. As long as we got the result then you can't look too far past that.

"We know we can play better, but the general standard of our football this season has been great. All the boys are playing for each other and playing for the team and there's a great work ethic around the squad.

"That showed through at Sunderland when we were 1-0 down and really had to fight to get back into it.

"The Premiership is about having a strong squad now and I feel very much a part of that. At the moment the lads have been doing great and it's just been my job to come on when needed to help sure things up or change this around.

"There's a lot of competition all over the pitch at the Club and for me it's just about doing the job that the manager wants me to and taking my chance when it comes along."