McGhee: My chats with Hearts striker Watt have helped him blossom

Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee
Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee
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Mark McGhee revealed how a couple of chance conversations with Tony Watt lay behind the 22-year-old striker’s late call-up to the Scotland squad.

Watt, on loan at Hearts from Charlton Athletic, earned his first cap as a substitute in the 1-0 friendly win against Czech Republic in March but was not in Gordon Strachan’s original plans for the opening World Cup qualifier in Malta on Sunday.

However, after Celtic duo Kieran Tierney and Leigh Griffiths, and midfielders Kevin McDonald and James McArthur withdrew on Tuesday, Watt and Rangers skipper Lee Wallace were drafted in.

Assistant manager McGhee had questioned Watt’s fitness in March but speaking at the Scots’ Mar Hall Hotel base, he said: “We have been big fans of Tony since we first saw him.

“We brought him in for a training camp in an early squad and he had certain issues at that time.

“I had a couple of conversations with Tony over the summer, quite long conversations and I reported back to Gordon that what I was hearing was responsible, mature, a sort of change. It is no surprise to me that he is doing well where he is now and he is at a level now where we can bring him in.

“He offers something a little bit different and we are delighted to have that type of player in the form he is now.”