Scotland 21s coach explains where Hearts duo Aaron Hickey and Andy Irving feature in plans

Scotland Under-21 coach Scot Gemmill is watching Hearts youngsters Andy Irving and Aaron Hickey with a view to future call-ups. Both teenagers have impressed sufficiently in their club’s first team this season to appear on Gemmill’s international radar.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th October 2019, 1:52 am
Hearts duo Aaron Hickey and Andy Irving. Pic: SNS

Scotland face Lithuania Under-21s at Tynecastle Park tomorrow night in a 5.15pm kick-off. They then travel to Uherské Hradište to meet Czech Republic on Monday evening for the second of two European Under-21 Championship qualifiers.

Gemmill’s side sit joint top of Group 4 after winning their opening two qualifiers, hence the coach has kept faith with his squad. However, he said Irving would earn a call-up if he maintained performance levels. Hickey is in the Scotland Under-19s but is also in contention for promotion to the Under-21s.

“Andy is obviously playing at a great level. I’ve worked with him before at Under-17s, so of course he is in contention,” explained Gemmill. “There are lots and lots of good players who could be in the squad and will be in the squad.

“Unfortunately, we can only pick a certain amount each time. Over the period, we have to give as much opportunity to as many players as possible. No matter how experienced they are, nobody knows which ones will go all the way.

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“If Andy continues playing at the level he is at, his chance will come. That’s applicable to all players who are not in the squad as well.”

Asked about Hickey, he added: “He obviously still qualifies for the Under-19s. We are constantly assessing it. We are trying to get that balance right between being as competitive as we can but also helping these players. For myself and the staff, it’s a huge responsibility to help the boys maximise their potential. They need opportunities to do that.”