Kevin McDonald believes Scotland’s quest to reach the 2020 European Championship starts with the friendly against Belgium on Friday night.
The World Cup semi-finalists are preparing for the Nations League opener against Albania on Monday night, a newly-formed Uefa tournament which acts as a second chance to reach the Euros.
The 29-year-old Fulham midfielder, whose one cap so far came against Costa Rica in a friendly at Hampden Park last March, acknowledged the prowess of the Red Devils but sees the match as the beginning of what he hopes will be a successful campaign.
He said: “We know it is a long campaign and it starts on Monday but in other ways it starts on Friday and we are building towards that.
“We are playing Belgium on Friday night which is a tough game for anyone.
“We have to go about our business in a positive way. We have a new squad here and it is all about getting game time together.
“We have a massive game coming up on Monday but Friday night will be the time to test things out and we have to go and put on a show and get the fans behind us.
“It is good to test yourself against this opposition, it’s what you want to do as a footballer.
“We are not going there to make up the numbers we are there to play.”
McDonald is enjoying life in the Premier League after coming up from the Championship with Fulham last season.
He previously reached the top flight with Burnley but they were relegated the following season and McDonald knows more is expected of the Whites, who spent over £100mi during the summer transfer window.
He said: “It is much different this time. Definitely.
“It is so much more quicker, technical. At Burnley we kind of winged it a bit and it didn’t pay off, we went straight back down which wasn’t the best.
“But this time, I am personally a lot more confident and as a team we are a lot more confident.
“When a club spends £100 million that has just been promoted, there are definitely expectation levels.
“But we know within our team that first and foremost you have to stay up.
“That’s the way it is. In the first season in the Premier League you have to stay up, that’s massive and any place above that is a bonus.
“But I am sure the fans and the media from outside is seeing that Fulham have spent £100 million they are going to give it a right go.
“But we know ourselves where we are at, we have to go and give it our best shot.”