Ricky Sbragia doesn’t want John McGinn back in the Scotland Under-21 squad – because he hopes the Hibs midfielder becomes a mainstay at senior level.
McGinn, a standout at Easter Road all season, earned his first call-up from national coach Gordon Strachan last week. Although the promotion robbed Sbragia of his captain, the Scotland Under-21 coach is delighted with McGinn’s progress.
He advised the 21-year-old to seize his opportunity later this month when Scotland face Denmark in an international friendly at Hampden Park.
“The A squad is a higher level of football, that takes them into another planet and is a step up from where we are to where they want to be,” said Sbragia. “We talk about development and that is good development for them. I would love John not to come back down to us. I’d love John to be up there all the time.
“I’ve got a lot of time for him, he’s a really good player, he’s a good captain and we respect him. He deserves what he gets because of his performances with Hibs week in, week out.”
Strachan has named different squads to face Czech Republic and Denmark and McGinn has been selected for the latter of the two friendlies on March 29. The Under-21s face France in a European Championship qualifier a week tomorrow and Sbragia is eager for points. However, he refused the chance to use McGinn with the Denmark match being five days later.
“People have asked me do I consider him for France but I don’t because he has an opportunity to go and seal a position at A squad level. I want him to go there and be 100 per cent,” he explained. “It never crossed my mind to take him to France because how could I and he gets an injury and deny him that opportunity? Gordon has mentioned it and I said: ‘No, keep him.’”
Sbragia insisted McGinn will not be disadvantaged in any way by playing in the Scottish Championship with Hibs this season. “Not for me because he’s played regularly for the Under-21s and done well. “I don’t look at that side because we’ve got players from the lower divisions in England. John will bridge the gap. He’s so determined, focused and one-minded. I think he’ll go on and do really well.”