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By ESPN Staff
Feb 7, 2007

Dailly urges Scotland to look to the future

Christian Dailly insists Scotland must forget about Walter Smith and focus on the future under new manager Alex McLeish.

The defender was as disappointed as the rest of the country when Smith quit the national team to return to Rangers last month.

Smith had guided the Scots to the top of their European Championship qualifying group and was criticised for running out on his country before next month's crucial double-header against Georgia and Italy.

He was replaced by McLeish last week and Dailly's message is simple: Life goes on.

'It was disappointing when Walter left,' he said. 'There's no doubt the job he did was a fantastic job. I don't think there is anything wrong with being disappointed when a manager who has done really well goes.

'It's a shame. But these things happen in football and I've been around long enough to realise that you just have to get on with it.'

McLeish may have admitted he was keen to remain in club management in the wake of Smith's departure, but he has since eased fears he is only using the Scotland job as a stepping stone to the Barclays Premiership.

And West Ham defender Dailly believes McLeish was always the natural choice to succeed Smith.

He added: 'I think it was the obvious choice because it was the right choice. It makes for a good continuation of the base that's been built by Walter until now.

'Certainly, it was the name I was looking at when all the names were being banded about. I think he will do well.'

Despite sitting at the summit of their qualifying group, Scotland have been given little chance of booking their place at next summer's Euro 2008 finals.

World Cup finalists Italy and France are expected to occupy the top two positions come the end of the campaign and even McLeish has admitted qualification will be a tall order.

But Dailly believes a victory in their next match against Georgia could make all the difference to Scotland's hopes, ahead of the trip to Italy four days later.

And he sees no reason why the Scots cannot defy the odds and book their place at their first major tournament in a decade.

'I'm always optimistic,' he said. 'We've put ourselves in a really good position.

'The Georgia game is a huge game. If we can take three points from that game, we'll be sitting on 12 points, which is a great points total after five games.

'The section is full of top sides but they all have to play each other and, if there are draws and teams take points from each other, we can put ourselves in a great position.

'Games against the teams like Georgia are vital - this game is like a cup final for us. If we win, it will be a massive win.'