Chris Martin surprised at starting for Scotland against Malta
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 05/09/16 4:51pm
Chris Martin admits he was surprised when Gordon Strachan picked him to play in Scotland's opening 2018 World Cup qualifier against Malta.
Martin was handed only his third international start on Sunday, and responded with his second Scotland goal when he converted Matt Ritchie's low cross as Strachan's side recorded a 5-1 victory.
The 27-year-old completed a loan move from Derby to Fulham last week and with Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths injured, Martin was chosen to lead Scotland's attack.
"I was surprised. I found out in the morning. The gaffer named the team when we went out to training to work on a few set-pieces," Martin told the Scottish Football Association's YouTube channel.
"But you have to get your head round it pretty quickly and it was nice to be included and good to repay a bit of faith with the goal.
"I think I had the easy job. Matt Ritchie has put in an unbelievable ball and it's very, very difficult to miss from that position.
"But all good strikers need to keep getting in there so I was delighted with that. I maybe could have had another one but all in all it was a very positive start to the campaign."
Martin was inches away from converting another low cross, from Andy Robertson, but Jonathan Caruana was adjudged to have clipped the striker's heels and was duly sent off, allowing Robert Snodgrass to convert from the spot.
But Martin admitted Scotland might have had some luck from the Ukrainian referee.
"I don't know, I need to look at it again, I'm not sure if I was fouled or not," Martin added. "Originally the guy in front of me gets a touch and diverts the ball away from me as I was going to have another tap-in.
"But I'm not sure what the ref really gave it for so your guess is as good as mine."
Scotland took complete control against 10 men and Snodgrass tapped in his third late on thanks, after substitute Fletcher was denied a second by the crossbar.
It was a spectacular reintroduction to competitive international action for the Hull winger, who missed the entire Euro 2016 campaign with a knee injury.
"I said to him before the game I fancied him for a goal and he managed to get three," Martin said.
"So that's fantastic. He's a brilliant player, great to play with and a hell of a lad as well. Everyone will tell you he is the life and soul in the dressing room and around the place and he gives everyone a lift, and he certainly did that with that performance."
There were other elements which gave the Scotland support encouragement, including Barry Bannan's passing, Ritchie's creative play and the direct running of Oliver Burke.
And Martin was delighted to hear his name being chanted as he went off.
"It was unbelievable, and hopefully I get that a few more times," he said. "If we keep doing well and putting the performances in then I'm sure they will be happy.
"It was nice to play some good stuff and get some goals, but ultimately it was about getting the points on the board. We did that and added a few goals to it which, all in all, was the perfect night for us."
Scotland host Lithuania on October 8 before facing Slovakia away three days later.