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Hanley's Scotland hopes

14 November 2014

Grant Hanley is eager to make the most of home advantage when Scotland take on the Republic of Ireland this Friday evening.

The Scots go into the match at Celtic Park, Glasgow, looking to close the gap on the Irish in Group D.

Scotland have had a tough opening to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, but have collected four points from their opening three games against Germany, Georgia and group leaders Poland.

Rovers captain Hanley, who missed the 2-2 draw with Poland in Warsaw last month, knows the importance of the match, but it is a game they can go into with confidence following recent results.

"The Ireland game is a massive game for qualification," said the defender.

"We've made a good start but so have Ireland so it is a game that we really need to take points from - especially being at home.

"They are the kind of games that you are in football to be involved in and it is definitely something that I'm looking forward to."

With World Cup champions Germany, as well as Poland and Ireland, Hanley feels that Scotland are in the toughest qualifying group for Euro 2016. But he's hopeful that with their upturn in form they can press for a top two finish and reach the finals in France.

Hanley added: "The group we have got is really tough, I'd probably say it is the toughest to get out of.

"It is something that I really enjoy, the games are good as well because you are testing yourself against the best which, ultimately, that is what you want to do.

"The last 18 months or so our performances have definitely picked up and if we keep improving then hopefully the results will come and we'll see where we are at the end of the campaign."

• Elsewhere Rovers development squad defender Sam Lavelle is in the Scotland Under-19 squad for their friendly against the Netherlands at Falkirk this afternoon.

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