Nottingham Forest and Scotland have Scott McKenna on emotional rollercoaster

Nottingham Forest celebrate at Wembley
Scott McKenna (third from right) celebrated with Nottingham Forest at Wembley
Nations League Group B1: Scotland v Armenia
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Wednesday, 8 June Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW/online, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Nottingham Forest's Scott McKenna says the enormity of playing Premier League football has not sunk in yet as a result of Scotland's World Cup exit.

The 25-year-old centre-half joined the national squad the day after Forest's 1-0 promotion play-off final win over Huddersfield Town.

His joy quickly turned to heartache as Scotland lost against Ukraine.

"I'm probably just a bit numb - after the game at Wembley, it didn't sink in for a few days," McKenna said.

"We played on the Sunday and I was up here on the Monday to meet up with the squad, so it's not something I've thought about too much.

"The focus was then on the Scotland camp and everybody was disappointed on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. It's the lowest I've seen a dressing room, but we've moved on from that now."

McKenna, who has 23 caps, was on the bench for last Wednesday's play-off semi-final defeat as Leeds United's Liam Cooper started on the left side of central defence in place of injured Arsenal man Kieran Tierney.

However, head coach Steve Clarke says he will rotate his squad for a Nations League triple header that begins with Armenia's visit on Wednesday.

"When Kieran is playing on the left side of a back three, the position I play at my club, it's always going to be difficult to get in there with the quality he has - and there are also very capable players in that position," McKenna said.

"First and foremost, I am just delighted to be in the squad - there's so much competition - but hopefully, if I get the chance, I can do well and try to keep my place."

McKenna is hopeful playing in the Premier League next season will further enhance his international chances.

"It's something every kid dreams of, so to get to that sort of level, I want to stay in the Forest team first and foremost and hopefully experience quite a few games at that level," he said.

McKenna believes he has progressed since his 2020 transfer from Aberdeen because of "different styles of play and more demands put on me and just coming up against different opponents every single week".

"There's more onus on me to play out from the back and you just need to be more concentrated at all times," he explained.

'He'll have to step up his game again'

Scotland's Scott McKenna and John Souttar in training
Scott McKenna and new Rangers signing John Souttar are vying to start in defence

Clarke revealed he had often spoken to McKenna about "taking the next step in his career" by moving to England and is delighted the centre-half has had such a "great season".

"Forest were bottom of the Championship and it looked like it was going to be a long slog for him.

"But he ends up with promotion to the English Premier League, which is fantastic and another challenge for him next season," he added.

"He's going to have to step up his game again, which he did do this year, and if he continues to improve then it's great for Scott and great for Scotland - and also great for Nottingham Forest."

Around the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the BBC iPlayer footer

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport