Lewis Stevenson set for Scotland debut and a starting role
Hibs left-back Lewis Stevenson will cap a season that started with his own testimonial match by making his Scotland debut against Peru in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Manager Alex McLeish, who was otherwise giving very little away, confirmed the 30-year-old will be handed a very belated international chance in a much-changed Scotland team. It is a deserved reward for Stevenson after years of solid performances at club level.
“It is very likely Lewis Stevenson will start,” said McLeish last night in Lima. “He has had a good season and he has showed up well in training.”
Charlie Mulgrew will likely lead the side as skipper for what, on the face of it, looks an extremely arduous task in the Estadio Nacional del Peru.
The sell-out crowd expect Scotland to be accommodating visitors as the hosts play their last home match before heading to the World Cup finals in Russia.
Callum Paterson, who has shone in the No.10 role for promoted Cardiff City this season, will be given the chance to continue in a more attacking role after playing at right-back in the past for Hearts and Scotland.
“I want to try and be fair to him and try to play him as much as possible in the role that he has excelled in this season,” said McLeish. “We will be looking at that over the next couple of games.”
Scotland have been training in the grounds of Markham College, a bilingual school set up by an Englishman in the 1940s, in the upmarket area of Miraflores in Lima.
McLeish has been delighted by the application shown but the truth is he has been left with a squad which is severely lacking in the experienced required at this level of international football.
Peru are 11th in the FIFA world rankings. Mexico, who Scotland play in the Azteca stadium this weekend, are currently 15th.
Scotland meanwhile, are 34th. But the Scotland who reached this mark is a very different Scotland to the one expected to represent the nation against Peru. There are nine uncapped players in the 21-man squad, including Stevenson. All are expected to feature at some point over the next two matches.
Despite this lack of options McLeish has decided against turning to Scots currently playing in the United States. Sporting Kansas City’s Johnny Russell is already in the squad but McLeish had spoken of turning to Danny Wilson and the uncapped Sam Nicholson, both now at Colorado Rapids.
“I think we are okay,” he said. “I think we are just going to go with the squad as it is unless we are hit by injuries. We are pretty secure now in what we are thinking over the next two games.”