Playing world champions Germany, dressing room gossip, the impending birth of a new child and a devilish training-ground prank on Kyle Lafferty. It's all going on in captain Russell Martin's latest blog.
Missed Russ' first blog? Read it here.
RUSS MARTIN VS GERMANY
After a hectic schedule of games, the lads now get a chance to rest mind and body for a week before we get back down to business. They will get a few days off to do as they please (within reason of course!) and come back to training refreshed and ready to go. The players on international duty won't be getting a break obviously, as we will be preparing for important matches over the next 10 days.
Me and Whitts will be coming up against world champions Germany and it is a game that we've been excited about since the draw. It will be up there with the biggest games of our career. We have had a great year being part of this Scotland squad and the team has made huge strides that make this game one to look forward to instead of fear.
We are a very organised team that works extremely hard for each other and want to play attacking football. Whilst being aware of Germany's strengths and form at the World Cup, we will work on what we are good at and how we can trouble them. I hope we put on a good display and show people how far we have come, and of course get our qualifying campaign off to a good start in one of the toughest groups to call in the competition.
ON THE INSIDE
It is nice to meet up with the squad on the back of some good results and good form for your club, as the inevitable questions and conversations on how things are going pop up over the dinner table between international teammates. It always interests me when talking to other players and coaches how opinions on colleagues, opposition players and a team's style of play can differ so much to what you previously thought.
Perception from the outside and reality inside football clubs are often very different and sometimes worlds apart. As is the case sometimes with fans' opinions as they only see what happens for 90 or 180 minutes a week. For the rest of the week all sorts of different things are going on back at the training ground - on the pitch, in the gym, in the physio room - that might affect a result and help or hinder the team in its quest for victory.
I'm inventing these examples, but we might talk about the new kid on the block who the press are touting as the next Messi or Ronaldo, only for one of his colleagues to tell us that in fact he has been very fortunate and will never kick on. Maybe because he's injury prone, or has a fondness for a night out partying, a thirst for an alcoholic beverage, a big ego, or maybe just a lack of ability that will get found out eventually.
On the other hand a team might have a player who has done the rounds, played a lot of games but isn't really rated by his peers until he turns up at your club and you realise what a good job he does, how professional he is, the example he sets and the shift he puts in.
The dressing room dynamics and mentality of a club really intrigue me and of course play a huge part in whether a club is successful or not. Mentality in football is huge - but that's to be discussed in a future blog.
One person who won't be meeting up with Scotland is Robert Snodgrass and he will certainly be missed. He is a fantastic professional and character and I want to wish him all the very best on his road to recovery.
I've spoken to him and he is very thankful and humbled by the amount of well-wishers who have sent him messages of support and good luck in his recovery. I know Snods very well and I know he will work harder than anyone to come back stronger from this setback.
A NEW MARTIN IS ON THE WAY!
My phone will be on 24/7 up in Scotland and not because I was waiting on a call from my agent on deadline day. In fact I will be waiting on a call from my wife to call me and tell me she has gone into labour!
I am hoping, however, that the baby waits until after the game and I'm home until he or she decides to enter the world. It will be our second child and we are all very excited. My two-and-a-half year old son (who bizarrely told me one morning recently that he "had a dream he played for Arsenal, 'the red team'") can't decide whether he would like a boy or a girl but is insisting it's called Gee Gee. Not sure he's going to get what he wants this time.
PRANKING KYLE LAFFERTY
Getting back to NCFC, we have had a really good start to the season and us players still feel there is much more to come from us. After five games you are still feeling your way into it, getting up to full match fitness and sharpness. We need to maintain the standards we have set early on and make sure that no-one gets complacent.
It is a marathon, not a sprint - which is a positive for Kyle Lafferty who wasn't going anywhere fast this week when he went to put on his Adidas trainers but couldn't as they were set in cement!
We are having new contrast baths installed and the workmen who were at the training ground very generously gave up some cement for this prank. I know who the perpetrator was but take great amusement in the fact that Laffs still doesn't a week later, and hasn't mentioned his name once in his long list of potential culprits. It wasn't me, though, I can assure him of that.
IPSWICH AND BEYOND
The derby game at Portman Road was a great day for all of us. It is so nice walking around the city being reminded how much it means to everyone and how pleased they were at the team's performance and the pride taken in wearing the yellow and green shirt. Let's hope we repeat that when Ipswich come to Carrow Road later on in the season.
Until then I hope you all enjoy the break and with a weekend of Canary-free football, it is a great time to support Non-League Day on Saturday 6 September by going to watch your local non-league team.
All the best
Russell Martin's Captains Blog is brought to you with the support of Carshop, proud partners of Norwich City's Academy.
A competition run by Carshop in Norwich recently resulted in 40 youngsters enjoying a training session with the coaches at Colney. Check out the video below.