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Arsenal must end season on a high

Arsenal
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Naismith feeling confident

Steven Naismith believes Scotland are in their best shape since Craig Levein took over as manager as they aim to kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign with maximum points at Hampden Park.

• Derek Rae: Attack like it's 1982

The Scots play host to Serbia on Saturday, before facing Macedonia three days later at the same venue.

Naismith, 25, is confident the national team is ready to deliver having gained the required experience needed to cut it at international level since Levein replaced George Burley at the helm in December 2009.

"Nobody can deny that there has been a lot of progress made from where the national squad was before he took over," said Naismith. "We've all now had experience in qualifiers. It's not as though we are a new squad coming together, we've been together for a while now, which goes a long way.

"Now we need to turn it into performances at the qualifying stage, not doing it in friendlies and things like that. We now need to show that we are capable and that what the manager has been working towards has paid off.''

Scotland have a difficult challenge ahead of them to make it to Brazil as they face a group, which includes Belgium, Wales and Croatia, but the Everton midfielder believes qualification is not beyond them.

"We are confident. The group we've got is going to be tough but we think we can get results," he said. "There is enough experience along with youth in the squad to compete against anybody."

Naismith is well aware of the demands for success at Hampden Park but believes the national team are in decent form following last month's friendly win over Australia.

"In the home games there is always pressure. Since I've been in the squad we have shown up well in the home games, we've competed and we've probably been the better team against most," he said.

"It's just about turning them into wins. The manager will have sat down and gone through every fixture, knowing where he wants every win ideally. I'm sure he will want the two home games at the start. You want to get off to a good start."

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