Scotland coach Gordon Strachan has hinted his intention to call up the likes of Ryan Gauld, John Souttar, Andrew Robertson and a host of other young Scottish talent in the upcoming friendly internationals, as long as they keep performing for their respective clubs.
The national coach has admitted the young talent at Dundee United still has a long way to go, but he wants to use the friendlies in March and May to introduce the youngsters into the squad, even if it is just to sit on the bench.
Speaking to the Daily Record, the national coach said:
“When people ask me about the youngsters, it’s nothing I am not asking myself. We all get together and decide who we should be looking at.
“We know what’s going on and we have to decide if they can give us more than other players.
“We will have a couple of friendlies in the next six months and it would be great if we could use some of these lads if they keep up the standard of play they are showing.
“Between now and June I want to see the young players come along and excite not just the coaching staff, but the players who are already there.”
“There is nothing better for me as a coach than to have these youngsters coming in. Even as a club manager, I found their enthusiasm vibrates round the dressing room. But it is up to these people to keep playing.
“If they are ready for international level, top clubs will buy them.”
Strachan also hinted that the jump from SPFL action to playing the likes of Belgium in qualifying campaigns could be a step too far.
“We are asking players to go from playing at their level to playing right up there against the likes of Belgium and Croatia and that’s hard.
“Even if you go back six or seven years ago when Celtic were in the last 16 of the Champions League and Rangers were at the UEFA Cup Final, there were probably 11 players playing regularly in Europe.
“They could then go into international level and bring what they’d learned.
“We don’t have that just now. We have Charlie Mulgrew and Scott Brown and you can tell the difference in those two playing Champions League because they’ve been starring for Scotland.
“It’s hard to take players who are not playing at that level and expect them to deal with that.
“What we’ve got to do is get more teams into Europe and get them doing better. That would help the national side. Even the ones we’ve got in England don’t play European football.”
Strachan insists Scotland can qualify for France 2016 – if we are given a kind draw.
He said: “Can we qualify? Yes, we can. Do we need to get better? Yes, we need to get better. The reason for that is we can’t guarantee who will be playing us.
“If you look at the group we were in this time, Croatia, for long parts of it, were No.3 in the world. Belgium, who were in the third pot, developed into one of the best teams in the world. Wales had Gareth Bale, probably the third-best player in the world, so we were up against that.
“Then I look at other groups and I think “if we’d been in that, the way we are playing just now, we’d have qualified’.
“But we can’t sit there and hope we don’t get a strong group. We have to be ready for a strong group and to compete.
“We will play against players who are better than our individuals. What we have to do is make sure our group can beat other teams’ individuals.”
The key to success Gordon hinted at was to treat Scotland like a club.
He said: “It’s harder with an international squad. As a coach the job is to make a team better rather than individuals better.
“When we get together, it has got to be like a club side and we all know our job.
“You need to watch sometimes that you don’t contradict what their club managers are doing.
“I also make it clear that when they come here, this system might not suit their clubs but it is the best system for us.
“If I am a club manager, I am paying a player £40,000 a week and for that money, I can demand that he goes out there and does this or that or he’s dropped.
“As a Scotland manager, these players play for nothing unless they qualify for something. They only come along for me to ask them – it’s not a demand.
“But I have to send them home in a strong frame of mind and as confident as they were when they turned up.
“I’ve seen players – Gary McAllister for instance – who got horrendous stick and then I had to pick him up when he came back to Coventry. That was hard work.
“But if I can pass on something they can take back to their clubs, I am delighted with that.
“Hopefully we are at the point now where a lot of teams don’t want to play us.
“You never know what the draw is going to be and that could be a big thing. We were unlucky last time when we got two terrific sides and one world class player to play against and that wasn’t easy.
“But what we have to do is improve ourselves.”
To view Strachan’s full interview, it is available on PLZSoccer.com. Image courtesy of BBC.co.uk