Jordan McGhee wants a successful return to Tynecastle tonight when Scotland Under-21s face Macedonia.
The Hearts defender, on loan to Middlesbrough, says playing for the English club’s under-23s is good preparation for the European Under-21 Championship qualifier.
Middlesbrough took McGhee south on a season-long loan in July after the player made it clear he wanted to leave Hearts. He is now back in Scotland with Ricky Sbragia’s Under-21 squad and will play from the start this evening. Tynecastle colleagues John Souttar, Sam Nicholson, Liam Smith and Billy King are also likely to be involved.
Whilst thanking everyone at Riccarton for their part in his development, McGhee explained how he has had his eyes opened by moving to England. He feels that will leave him better prepared to represent his country.
“The game is a lot different down there,” he told the Evening News. “In Scotland, it’s more frantic with long balls and you’re wrestling all the time. In England, although the players are bigger and stronger, you play with your brain a lot more.
“There is a lot more time on the ball to pick passes, but at the same time it’s sharper and more intense than Scottish football.
“Everything is a lot quicker but I’m sure I’ll adapt to that. It’s more like a Scotland Under-21 game in that sense.
“I prefer to get the ball down and play, starting moves off with passes from centre-back. In Scotland, sometimes you can’t do that because teams press right up against you. They’ll just kick long balls on top of you.
“The games in England are really intense but you get more time on the ball at the back to dictate and do what you want. That’s one of the reasons I moved, do be able to do stuff like that.
“It will be great being back at Tynecastle. I spoke to a few of the Hearts boys earlier this week when we trained at the new facilities at Oriam. I spoke to Robbie Neilson, Stevie Crawford and some of the players.
“They’re all happy for me. Hearts seem to have had a good start to the season so everything is working out well for me and the club. Hearts were great with me all the way through my career so going back to Tynecastle will be special.”
McGhee is feeling fitter than ever due to Middlesbrough’s attention to detail with their players. “I’ve done two pre-seasons – one at Hearts and one at Middlesbrough,” he added.
“I was in good shape and I’ve played a lot of games down there, which is what I wanted. I’m learning different aspects of the game that I was struggling to learn up here