Photo: Peter Macdonald
by Liam Bryce
Gordon Strachan insists striker Chris Martin is in “great company” after being booed by Scotland fans at Hampden.
Substitute Martin struck in the 88th minute to seal victory for the Scots on Sunday, but was jeered by some supporters as he replaced James Morrison with ten minutes to play.
Strachan has leapt to the forward’s defence following the incident, pointing out that he is not the first player to be booed by the Tartan Army.
He said: “Kenny Dalglish used to get booed. Alan Hansen used to get booed. Gary McAllister used to get booed. It is a great club to be involved in – if you can line up with those guys, then fantastic.
“Everyone here understands what he brings to a team. Some people can’t see it, which is understandable.
“I don’t understand cricket too much. But if you don’t understand the game, then you have a problem understanding what players are all about.”
Martin led the line during last week’s dismal draw with Canada, and faced heavy criticism before being replaced by Leigh Griffiths.
Griffiths started Sunday’s tie against Slovenia, but it was Martin who came off the bench to save the Scots’ World Cup hopes, and likely his manager’s job.
The on-loan Fulham striker admitted he was unsure whether his crucial goal would win over critics, but hopes the victory will lift the nation’s spirits.
He said: “I’m not going to be telling them what they should be thinking or how they should be feeling.
“Hopefully they enjoy the three points and there is a bit more optimism going into the England game.”
Martin’s late goal moved the national side up to fourth in Group F, as they look to keep their slim qualification hopes alive.
The Tartan Army lie two points behind Slovakia ahead of the next round of fixtures, when group leaders England visit Hampden on 10 June.
Gareth Southgate’s side breezed past the Scots at Wembley in November, winning 3-0 as they established a commanding lead at the group summit.
But full-back Andy Robertson believes the side should be full of confidence following the timely victory over the Slovenians.
He said: “If we pick up points in that game then we’re right back in it.
“We have a massive game coming up against England at home, and if we show that tempo and desire you never know what happens.”