Greg Taylor feels his Scotland team-mates are beginning to fully appreciate the abilities of manager Steve Clarke.
Clarke endured a difficult start to international management with four consecutive defeats in games against Belgium and Russia following his opening win over Cyprus.
The former West Brom and Kilmarnock boss led Scotland another 2-1 victory over the Cypriots on Saturday following last month’s 6-0 win over San Marino and Celtic left-back Taylor is seeing the same positive signs of progress that Clarke achieved more immediately at Rugby Park.
The former Kilmarnock player said: “I worked with the gaffer for two years before he took the job and I can’t sing his praises high enough.
“He’s a top, top manager and I think the boys are starting to slowly but surely see that.
“Winning games always helps, I said that when he first came in with Kilmarnock and I will say it now. That’s two on the bounce and we will hopefully go and get three and build for the play-offs in March.
“These two games are important. Obviously there have been a few call-offs, which hasn’t been ideal, but it’s up to the boys that are out there to take their chance.
“Hopefully we get a good crowd on Tuesday (against Kazakhstan) and build for the play-offs because what a chance we have to get to the Euros.”
2-1 is a familiar scoreline against Cyprus.
Our last four meetings:
1989: 🏴 2 – 1 🇨🇾2011: 🇨🇾 1 – 2 🏴2019: 🏴 2 – 1 🇨🇾2019: 🇨🇾 1 – 2 🏴#SCOCYP
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 16, 2019
Taylor went into Saturday’s game on the back of only one appearance in the previous three months following injury and the form of Celtic left-back Boli Bolingoli.
But there were no signs of him lacking match sharpness as he set up John McGinn’s winner and had to be told by Clarke to curb his forward runs in the latter stages.
“I think I was probably just eager to impress,” the 22-year-old said. “At my club team certainly you are encouraged to go, go go. Maybe I got a wee bit excited later in the game rather than just managing it, but it was good to get the three points and work with the gaffer again.
“I keep a good base fitness, it’s important to do that regardless if you’re playing or not. I played against St Mirren a couple of weeks back, so it wasn’t all that long ago I played.
“Obviously it’s not been ideal not playing as much as I would have liked, but you have just got to be patient. It’s a massive club I’m at. And I enjoyed my 90 minutes.
“It was a tough game, a battling second half certainly. I thought first half we had a decent bit of control in the game, but certainly Cyprus grew into it in the second half.
“When they levelled we showed a good mentality and job done, on to Tuesday.
“It was frustrating to lose the goal, it was a hell of a finish from the boy. But to go on and create for John, it’s a great finish from John as well, and for that to be the winning goal for us was nice.”
Taylor’s chance came after Andy Robertson pulled out of the squad on top of the ongoing absence of Kieran Tierney.
“I have not been in any squads with Kieran, he has unfortunately been injured, but Andy has been great with myself, always giving me pointers here and there,” Taylor said. “He is a good captain and a great team-mate.
“I’m thankful I managed to get a chance on Saturday and hopefully get another on Tuesday, but I wish Kieran and Andy all the best with their fitness.
“In football it’s about taking opportunities, it’s probably when you least expect it you get them. Hopefully I have done enough to keep my place for Tuesday and beyond that who will know, it’s up to the gaffer, but I certainly enjoyed Saturday.”