Alex McLeish tells Scotland call-ups to prove their worth

Scotland manager Alex McLeish
Scotland manager Alex McLeish selected a squad containing 14 players aged 25 or under

Scotland manager Alex McLeish wants a new crop of international players to grasp their opportunity with the national team.

Six players were called up to the squad for the first time as McLeish prepared for his opening two friendly matches in his second spell in charge.

Fourteen of the 27-man squad are 25 or under, while eight are uncapped.

"The next step is the guys prove it," McLeish said. "Hopefully it's the start of a great era for Scotland.

"They have to now show they can live with other international teams, improve their game and see if they can raise the bar to the highest level they can possibly go."

McLeish's first two games in charge are against Costa Rica at Hampden on 23 March and away to Hungary four days later.

His squad for the two games contains only seven players with 10 caps or more, and only four of the players are aged 30 or over.

Experienced players such as Darren Fletcher, James McArthur, Ikechi Anya, Barry Bannan and Robert Snodgrass all sit out.

Scotland defender Kieran Tierney
Kieran Tierney captained Scotland while playing centre-back against Netherlands at Pittodrie

"It is a fresh start," McLeish said. "There's a couple of the experienced players not in the squad but I know what they can do. I want to have a look at some other players.

"We want them to play the way they have been playing for their clubs and try and challenge themselves to become even better.

"It's getting a look at these guys working with the national team, see how they cope, try to improve the mentalities and not least the techniques.

"These are young guys, there's maybe going to be some hiccups along the way, but the ultimate goal is qualification for the Euros."

McLeish has yet to make a decision on the captaincy for the two friendlies, but says he has a plan to accommodate both Kieran Tierney and Andrew Robertson, the Celtic and Liverpool left-backs respectively, while Dylan McGeouch of Hibs made a "late run" into the squad after playing well in the Edinburgh derby win over Hearts in front of the watching McLeish.

Hibernian midfielder Dylan McGeouch
Hibernian midfielder Dylan McGeouch played his way into the Scotland squad with his display against Hearts

"Of course I would [consider playing Tierney at centre-back], he had a smashing game up at Aberdeen in the friendly when Malky Mackay took the game - he didn't look out of place in the centre-back position," McLeish said.

"I probably wouldn't want to play him at right back unless it's a real emergency, that wouldn't be my plan for Tierney. We do have definitive plans about how we want to play.

"Oliver [McBurnie] has come to me late in the day. He got flagged up a couple of weeks ago and it was my goal to try to watch him closely. I've watched a few of the games since and he's an interesting character. All the feedback I've had is that we feel he has something to offer.

"[Scott McTominay]'s father's a Scotsman, so he's Scottish by blood. It's a very positive situation for Scotland. I went to see him against Crystal Palace and he had a fantastic game against Liverpool. We believe he has a massive future for Scotland."

Top Stories