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Wigan ace Maloney: Scotland in much better shape than 12 months ago

Shaun Maloney believes the Scotland national team has plenty more positivity now than it did 12 months ago.

The Scots are preparing for Tuesday's World Cup qualifying clash with Macedonia in Skopje, almost exactly a year after being held to a 1-1 draw by the Balkan side in Glasgow, and Wigan Athletic's Maloney suggests things are much better under Gordon Strachan than they were with Craig Levein at the helm.

"When we played Macedonia earlier in the campaign they were a pretty good team. I know we drew but they were probably the better side," he told the Daily Record.

"So this will be a tough match but we are in a bit of a different place and might be harder to beat.

"For example we struggled to cope with (Goran) Pandev from Napoli last time but a helluva lot of work has been put in by the manager over the last few months in terms of trying to do a lot better defensively and I think that has probably showed.

"It's hard to put the change down to one thing but really it's been about making us difficult to play against when we don't have the ball.

"Against Croatia and England we had less of the ball than the opposition - and rightly so when you see the rankings, they're far superior to ours.

"So when we don't have the ball we have to make it much more difficult for our opponents to break us down.

"That's come across to me as a player - I don't know if it has for those watching the game. We're certainly trying to make it a lot harder for a team to find those No.10 players in the hole.

"It's difficult because I don't want to criticise the previous manager but Gordon, in terms of his shape and things like that, is certainly different.

"It's a different type of organisation, the manager has put his own stamp on it, but yeah, the last two games have shown we're in a better place."

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