Scotland U-21 door still open for Aaron Hickey, insists coach Scot Gemmill
The Bologna left-back pulled out of the squad for the upcoming European Championship double header with Kazakhstan and Belgium.
Hickey has opted to rest and recuperate after a hectic start to the Serie A season with Bologna where he has started all 12 games following surgery in the summer.
The former Hearts star has pulled out of squads before but Gemmill is not considering such a drastic step as to not calling up one of the country’s most talented teenagers again.
He said: “Why would we do that? We have a really good young player playing at a really good level. Everyone is excited to see whether he can fulfil his potential. He is doing really well, it's exciting for everybody in Scotland to see him fulfil his ambitions.
“I’ve not spoken to him.
"My job is to pick the best players. We select Aaron and then the rest is down to him. We can’t force him to come and play. It’s his decision and I completely respect it and we concentrate on preparing for the game.”
Experience at under-21 level can play a key part in a player's development to becoming part of the full squad, something Gemmill believes Hickey is well aware of.
“Aaron knows that," he said. “We have to respect his decision. He did an interview where he said he wants to play for Scotland.
“He can’t be clearer than saying he wants to play for Scotland.
“Aaron knows he can speak to me any time he wants. I have to concentrate on the players that are here. We have the Hibs left-back, the Celtic left-back. I have to prepare the team.
“There’s no doubt being with us would be beneficial to Aaron’s development. One hundred per cent. I would much rather he was with us. I think it would help him enormously playing at this level.
“He wants to play for Scotland. I think it’s 18 out of the 26 from the Euros squad played at under 21 level. It;s a proven pathway to playing international football and becoming a top player.
“But if Aaron feels he’s not in a position to play then we have to respect that.”
Another Aaron is set to be a key figure for Gemmill with Aaron Pressley, currently on loan at AFC Wimbledon from Brentford, likely to win a first cap.
The son of former Scotland international Steven could be tasked with filling the void left by Fraser Hornby, the country’s record scorer at this level.
“He has been given the opportunity,” Gemmill said. “He is playing in a really tough league and is trying to establish himself.
“It’s the same for all of the players. It’s an opportunity and we are very lucky we can give them that.”
He added: “That's something we shouldn't forget and there's a lot of players who aren't in the squad who would love to be here.