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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

@Everton

Steven Naismith says Gareth Bale should not be feared when Scotland face Wales in Friday’s crunch clash at Hampden Park.

Both nations are desperately searching for precious points to revive their faint World Cup qualification hopes following poor starts in Group A.

Bottom-placed Scotland are without a win from their first four fixtures, while Wales’ only points were recorded with a victory in the corresponding game at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Bale’s late double in October – which included a thunderous 30-yard shot – secured a 2-1 win in what proved to be Craig Levein’s penultimate match in charge.

However, despite the Tottenham winger’s outstanding form for club and country, Naismith is confident Scotland can secure maximum points and give their qualifying campaign a much-needed shot in the arm.

“Wales have some real talented players and, of course, you don’t need to look further than Gareth Bale, but we need to cause them problems with our players,” said Naismith.

“Shaun Maloney has had a terrific season at Wigan and he’s someone in our squad who can change a game himself. Our forward-going players can cause Wales just as many problems as they can cause us.

“Shaun’s had that experience of being in England before at Villa but it’s maybe taken him a bit more time than people expected [to settle]. He’s showing his true colours now and how good a player he is.

Bale and Maloney

“He showed it at Celtic and people probably had their doubts whether he could do it at a higher level and he’s come to England and done that. He has played a massive part in how Wigan have done this season, and even last season, and is definitely a player whose progress I look at and see it is something I would like.”

Naismith has made 28 Premier League appearances and scored three goals since joining Everton from Rangers last summer.

Since the turn of the year, however, the 26-year-old has made just three starts for the Blues – but it’s a situation he understands.

“There is nothing that can replicate playing week in, week out, but that is what happens when you’ve got a bunch of guys in the best league in the world,” Naismith added.

“The competition is high and there are going to be times when players are in and out of the team.”

For a comprehensive guide of which Everton players are playing where during the international break, click here.

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