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Johnny Russell not fazed by long-haul journeys for Scotland duty

Johnny Russell not fazed by long-haul journeys for Scotland duty
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The Sporting Kansas City forward made a five-hour flight to link up with Alex McLeish's squad.

Johnny Russell stressed his commitment to Scotland after boss Alex McLeish was hit by another withdrawal ahead of the Nations League double-header against Albania and Israel.

Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack, called up on Sunday after another raft of withdrawals including that of Fulham playmaker Kevin McDonald, has left the camp with an unspecified injury.

McLeish was already shorn of several key players before Blackburn defender Charlie Mulgrew, Kilmarnock's Stephen O'Donnell and Celtic keeper Craig Gordon withdrew injured over the weekend.

Jack, along with Hamburg defender David Bates, Manchester United playmaker Scott McTominay and Hoops stopper Scott Bain, were drafted in on Sunday.

However, Sporting Kansas City forward Russell, who made another long journey from the United States to join up with his Scotland team mates, is keen to add to his eight caps.

The 28-year-old former Dundee United and Derby player said: "I feel good. I am used to it now.

"The facilities and the sports science... it is not a problem.

"I was out of the squad for so long, I said I would do anything to be back in.

"People have brought up the distance before but I have said there isn't a distance that I wouldn't travel to come back and play for my country.

"It is five hours for me. It can be difficult to travel, especially when you have been doing it all season but I spent so long out of the squad I would never do anything to jeopardise it again."

Jack played in the 7-1 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Motherwell at Ibrox on Sunday but declared an unspecified injury the following morning.

McLeish, speaking at Scotland's hotel on the outskirts of Edinburgh, said: "Ryan is out. He played the whole game for Rangers and unfortunately he picked up an injury.

"It is one of these things that happens which is why we wait late on the Sunday because of the Sunday games.

"That is unfortunate for Ryan, getting (back) into the Rangers team, obviously he has something to offer the squad in so many different positions."

Russell arrived back in Scotland in confident mode after Kansas City's 5-3 aggregate win over Real Salt Lake sent them through to the Western Conference Championship of the MLS Cup play-offs, where they will face the Portland Timbers.

He said: "Obviously winning at your club definitely helps when you come away and hopefully I can continue that.

"We have had a great year. The aim was to get into the play-offs as high as we could and we have done that and we have another two tough games when I get back from here but I will think about them after these two.

"We know it is two massive games (Albania and Israel), must-win games, all the boys know that so it is time to get the head down and get to work.

"It is going to be a difficult game, they beat Israel and they caused us a couple of problems.

"But we need to win the game."

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Scotland manager Alex McLeish pictured on October 11, 2018
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McLeish keen to show resilience and lead Scotland to Nations League play-offs

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