Oli McBurnie reaffirms commitment to Scotland and speaks to team-mates after Sheffield United video controversy

Oli McBurnie has addressed his Scotland team-mates after footage emerged that raised questions about his commitment to the national side.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 11:36 pm
Oli McBurnie takes part in a Scotland training session at the Oriam ahead of the matches against Russia and Belgium

Oli McBurnie sought a clear-the-air meeting with his Scotland teammates after a video clip was interpreted as him pouring scorn on his latest international call-up.

The Sheffield United striker hit the headlines earlier this summer when he briefly became Scotland’s most expensive ever player after making a £20m move from Swansea City.

He did not expect to be thrust back into the spotlight in unwitting fashion after his own club’s in-house TV station broadcast footage of him chatting in a corridor with teammates, including compatriot John Fleck.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The clip of the muffled conversation went viral on social media last week and led to claims he was not committed. This prompted McBurnie to address the situation yesterday morning before the players took part in their first training session prior to Friday night’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Russia. Scotland then take on Belgium on Monday night at Hampden and McBurnie is in the frame to feature in both matches.

Assistant coach Steven Reid stressed that if there were any doubts about his commitment then the player, who has seven caps to date, would not be in manager Steve Clarke’s plans. He has been called up for the first time under the new manager.

“The manager has openly said that he only wants committed players to be involved,” said Reid. “If that wasn’t the case, then I don’t think Oli – or any other squad member – would be here.It’s a fully committed squad, a fully committed Oli. And it’s a big opportunity for him now, for obvious reasons with the positions up for grabs.So hopefully he can bring his good start with Sheffield United into the international fold.

“He wanted to speak to the group just to clear up and clarify the situation,” added Reid. “I know he spoke to the manager as well.And he looked really bright in training. I’m really impressed with my first day working with him – hopefully that continues for the rest of the camp.

“It wasn’t even a case of (us) accepting or not accepting (his explanation). He wanted to speak to the whole group to clarify the whole situation which has been ongoing for a few days – and that’s it. We draw a line under it, move on and look forward to the two games coming up.”

Reid has no doubt the Tartan Army will continue to support McBurnie, whose industry and unkempt style has seen him become a popular figure since he emerged on the international scene under Alex McLeish. He has yet to score an international goal but headed in his first for United ten days ago in a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City.

“You have to be fully committed or don’t bother turning up,” said Reid, who won 23 caps for the Republic of Ireland. “I expect the fans to be behind Oli. These things happen in football all the time.

“During my club career you get one or two incidents that get into the Press and you draw a line under it and move on. We’re all here now and it’s all been cleared up and clarified. We’ve trained well and we’ve got to look forward to the two games ahead.

“Oli’s got a bit of character about him and he’s confident in his own ability. I’m really looking forward to working with him.”