ALAN STUBBS today urged Hibs kids Jason Cummings, John McGinn and Liam Henderson to use their Scotland Under-21 call-ups to catch the eye of Gordon Strachan ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Easter Road trio have been named – Henderson for the first time – by Ricky Sbragia for the young Scots’ latest European Championship match against Ukraine on Friday week. They are joined in the squad by five players from Hearts – Jack Hamilton, Callum Paterson, Billy King, Sam Nicholson and Jordan McGhee.
The SFA have revealed that national coach Strachan will join Sbragia’s backroom staff during the preparations for that game to familiarise himself with the young players hoping to be part of next year’s FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign which will include clashes with England.
And that, Stubbs insisted, presents the youngsters with a “fantastic” opportunity to have Strachan take note of their names. The Hibs head coach said: “The fact the national team manager is going to be there is an opportunity to impress not just Ricky Sbragia but Gordon Strachan himself. That’s great for them. It’s a fantastic opportunity for them and one I know they will grab with both hands.”
The presence of Strachan, who watched from the stand as the young Scots drew 0-0 with Iceland last month, will no doubt bring a little added pressure to bear, but Stubbs believes that is something the players will handle.
He said: “Throughout your development as a player you have to keep responding to whatever is put in front of you. You have to keep impressing people at all levels.”
The call-ups for Cummings, McGinn and Henderson, pictured, will result in Hibs’ Championship match against Livingston the following day being postponed.
Stubbs said: “They are three influential players in our team, that’s why they are in the squad in the first place because of our performances.
“The contribution they have made in us getting results has been significant. Jason and John have been there before but it’s great news for Liam, a reward for the performances he has put in since he came here, I’m delighted for him.
“Having Jason and John there will make it easier for him to settle in, but most importantly, it’s another step up from the other levels at which he has represented Scotland.
“Having the three in the squad automatically triggers a postponement of the Livingston match and we’ll work with them to rearrange a date that suits both of us.”
Stubbs’ immediate focus, though, is on tomorrow night’s League Cup quarter-final against the Premiership’s basement side Dundee United, now bossed by his old Bolton Wanderers team-mate and a former Hibs manager himself, Mixu Paatelainen.
Stubbs said: “It will be great to see Mixu. I haven’t seen him for a while. Hopefully, I’ll be shaking his hand afterwards having celebrated a win but it is going to be another hard game and we will have to be every bit as good as we were against Rangers on Sunday.
“It’s well documented Mixu wanted far more fight from his team and he got that first win at the weekend. It’s going to be a tough game no matter what has been happening there recently but I feel we are quite happy to play anybody whoever that might be, especially at Easter Road.”
Hibs, however, will be without Dylan McGeouch for that match and probably Saturday’s trip to face St Mirren, the midfielder having picked up a groin injury early in the victory over Rangers although Stubbs believes it’s nothing serious and that the postponement of the Livingston game will work in his favour.