Scotland: Motherwell boss backs Stephen O'Donnell to thwart Nathan Patterson competition

Stephen O'Donnell and Nathan Patterson
Stephen O'Donnell could face competition from Nathan Patterson

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander has backed Stephen O'Donnell to retain his Scotland place despite competition from Rangers teenager Nathan Patterson.

The 19-year-old has impressed after breaking into Steven Gerrard's title-winning side this season.

But he has only been involved at Under-21 level as head coach Steve Clarke considers his Euro 2020 squad.

"Just being at a top club does not make you the best player in that position," Alexander told BBC Scotland.

"Patterson has been playing in the best team in Scotland by far, they haven't been beaten domestically and have the majority of possession, while Stephen O'Donnell plays for a team that doesn't do that and has to defend a lot and compete.

"I would suggest that's the way Scotland are going to have to play in this tournament - they are not going to be the top team with the most possession and always attacking."

Liam Palmer, a regular with relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday, has been back-up to O'Donnell under Clarke.

Patterson, meanwhile, dropped out of Rangers' starting line-up for Wednesday's 1-1 draw with St Johnstone on captain James Tavernier's return from injury.

The teenager will also be missing for most his club's remaining fixtures after Rangers lost their appeal against bans imposed on Patterson and four team-mates for breaking Covid-19 regulations.

"There's a group of players outside that squad at the moment that are perfectly capable of being inside it and Patterson is certainly one of them," former Scotland right-back Alexander said.

"But I believe O'Donnell has proved his worth to both the manager and the team by performing week in, week out - first for his club and every time he has been called upon for Scotland."

Alexander, who did not earn his 40 caps until after he turned 30, believes he would have won more had he played for a bigger club than Preston North End or Burnley and hopes that those chosen for the finals will be based purely "on merit".

"Stephen O'Donnell and [Motherwell team-mate] Declan Gallagher have been in there for a while now and they've proved their worth to the manager and the team by helping Scotland qualify," he said.

Alexander hopes goalkeeper Liam Kelly, who is on loan from Queens Park Rangers, can force his way into the party along with his two defenders.

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport

Elsewhere on the BBC