JOHN McGINN admits the Scotland Under-21 players are now pushing to catch the eye of national coach Gordon Strachan and earn promotion to the senior squad.
After Euro 2016 hopes evaporated last week, those in Ricky Sbragia’s group are eyeing places in a new-look full squad for next year. It remains unclear whether Strachan will stay as national coach but Scotland’s youngsters are eager to step up.
McGinn captained Scotland Under-21s in a disappointing 2-1 defeat by France at Pittodrie on Saturday. Seeing Strachan call up youngsters like Callum Paterson and Lewis McLeod last year gives him hope.
“This is the level before the A squad,” said the Hibs midfielder. “I know there is a lot to prove before you get there but Gordon has shown before that he is willing to put young boys in. It’s up to us to work as hard as we can and show we are ready for it.”
McGinn admitted that the young Scots will need to show more belief if they are to reach full international level. They were overwhelmed by the French, although many of the visiting squad play regularly at some of Europe’s top clubs.
“A lot of their boys are close to the first team at these clubs, so I think we have got to put it into perspective a bit,” continued McGinn. “The last fiftenn minutes was a bit of a training session for them. But we managed to run them close at times.
“I think we have got to have a bit more belief. In the first half, you could see Ryan Christie and Ryan Gauld caused them a lot of problems but we didn’t get the ball to them enough. We have got the ability. We have just go to get the physical strength and pace to put it all together and use it to our advantage. I’m out there playing against Rabiot, who is in and out of the team at PSG. Laporte is rated at something like £35 million and being linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid. We are not going to be playing players like that every week in Scotland. We have to look at what they do and how they play against us. You get punished more than at club level so we have to be very careful. It will be the same Tuesday against Iceland as they are a good team, too.”
Scotland now need to take something from Iceland at Pittodrie tomorrow to keep in touch in their qualifying group for the 2017 European Under-21 Championship.