UPSETS in international football are always good for a laugh or two. Until it’s you that is the butt of the jokes.

That’s exactly the scenario that Kenny McLean is desperate to avoid tonight when the Faroe Islands come to Hampden, after the Scotland midfielder watched the Republic of Ireland becoming something of a laughing stock as they went down at home to Luxembourg on Sunday.

The Faroe Islands, like Luxembourg, have improved somewhat of late, and would no longer class themselves as the no-hopers of international football they once were. Scotland will not be able to hide behind that fact though should they fail to win tonight. And Steve Clarke and his players know it.

When asked if the Ireland defeat had been a lesson in the pitfalls that could lie in wait at the national stadium, McLean said: “Exactly. We’ve seen slip ups in the past, we’ve seen them this week.

“We can’t hide from the fact we are massive favourites, but it’s down to approach. If we approach the game in the right manner, then I’m confident we can get the job done. But it’s never that straightforward, so we’ll see how it goes.

“We know that we are favourites to win the game and we cannot hide from that fact, but we can’t underestimate anyone at this level.

“The Faroe Islands will make it hard for us and be hard to beat, so it is up to us and it’s down to how we approach the game, our mentality and doing the right things.

“We know we have the quality in abundance, so it’s up to us in the manner we approach the game and, hopefully, we can take care of it.”

As well as becoming figures of fun outwith their own borders, the fallout from such a result in their homeland can be anything but a joke. It is the visceral reaction to the 2-2 draw against the Faroe Islands that stuck in the mind of a 10-year-old McLean back in 2002, rather than the game itself.

“I don’t remember much about it, to be honest,” he said. “But I saw the backlash.

“It’s one of these things. It’s international football and anything can happen. They’ll come here and they’ll be desperate to do as well as they can. It’s a big stage for them.

“If we are going away to face a so-called bigger nation, we’ll go there with belief and try to do all we can to get points. The Faroes will come and so the same.

“It’ll be tough, but we know we have quality and just have to do the right things.”

Going into a match as clear favourites is a role that Scotland haven’t always enjoyed, but McLean touched upon a theme that his manager has been discussing of late when he explained that the game could well hinge on what goes on inside their own heads. And in particular, how much belief the Scotland players have in themselves, a quality that has sometimes been lacking.

“We will go out and try and do as much as we can to get the performance and the right result,” he said.

“Some people might say after the game that [victory] was expected but it can be good for confidence if we put on a good performance.

“In the last couple of games the performances have been good in patches but the manager has mentioned the self-confidence thing. If we have more self-confidence then we can do it more over longer spells in games and get better results. That’s a consistency thing that comes with the progression we are making.

“So [tonight] can be good for us, of course it can. We can make a big step and get a big three points.”

That feeds into his next point, as the players have resisted the temptation to beat themselves up over the two draws that have kicked off this campaign.

“Listen, we went into the Austria game wanting to get the three points and we couldn’t get the three points,” he said. “But we didn’t allow Austria to get the three points, so that’s a good thing. It’s the same with Israel, we went there to win.

“It’s a tough group but we are confident we can get out of it. We need to be confident. We need to stand by each other and hope we continue to get the backing of the nation as they have done excellently recently.

“And if we get the three points [tonight] we could be sitting in an okay position with more to come.”

And McLean feels there is more to come from this Scotland side in terms of qualifying for major tournaments. After tonight’s match, full attention will turn to the summer, but McLean says that the whole squad are desperate to make such occasions a regular occurrence.

“As soon as we meet up the feeling is there, because as soon as we go onto the training pitch and see the quality and standards set, the intensity, everyone is pulling in the same direction,” he said.

“We want these qualifications for tournaments. We’ve done it for the Euros, but that’s put on the back burner. We have other business. We can’t just sit on that because we’ve done it.

“Of course it made us feel good, but it also makes us want more as we know what it feels like. It’s going to bring out more in us, it’s going to get the best out of us.

“We’ll keep pushing to get the best out of each other. We know we have the squad to qualify for tournaments, so it’s up to us to produce.”