Allan Campbell is relishing the prospect of going toe to toe with England in Wednesday’s Toulon tournament semi-final.
The Motherwell midfielder has been an influential figure as Scot Gemmill’s side topped Group B with wins over hosts France and South Korea, alongside a hard-fought opening draw with Togo.
While the likes of Billy Gilmour and Oliver Burke have captured the imagination with eye-catching goals, Campbell’s selfless pressing and tactical discipline are rightly recognised by his team-mates and the coaching staff.
Coming off the back of 37 appearances for his club last term, his energy levels are also testament to the dedication the 19-year-old shows to his profession – a trait which is regularly highlighted by those within Fir Park.
So, with no hint of fatigue, Campbell is looking forward to testing himself again against the Three Lions.
Allan, you’ve played a central role in a team that’s performed really well so far in France. How much have you enjoyed your Toulon tournament experience so far?
The tournament has been a good experience, especially when it comes to playing against boys you’ve not faced before. You never know at the start of the tournament if you’re going to play or what Scot Gemmill might do regarding the shape, so I’ve been grateful to get games and hopefully I’ve done alright.
Alright is a bit of an understatement. Scot played you in a more advanced role against the French, which seemed to work well, before you were back in a deeper position against South Korea. What do you feel you bring to the team?
I’ve always been a midfielder, ever since I started out in football. I just like being in the heart of things, in and about it, getting on the ball. I just think that’s my sort of game – getting stuck in. If I get the chance to get in and around somebody then I’ll do it. You need to be as horrible as you can for a team to play against. So we want to try and make the game as horrible for England as we can in the hope we can upset them. You need to disrupt their play. If that means getting in about them, keeping the ball off them or doing whatever we can to win the game then we’ll go out and try to do it.
You’re obviously someone who loves the game. Is that important as you look to improve different aspects of your own play?
I’m trying to add things to my game, like going forward a bit more. I always look to try and improve on bits of my play. If I want to try to improve my attacking play then I will watch midfielder who like to do that. I like to get a wee bit of knowledge on the things they do and add it to my game. Scott Brown, for example, has done amazingly well in the Scottish game and I’d like to do that in my career. You just want to challenge yourself against the better players in the league, so every time I come up against them I want to see how far I am away from them, then try to impose myself. Hopefully I’ve done that. I like watching games too. As a squad we’ve watched the two senior Scotland friendlies over breakfast when we’ve been in France.”
At 19 you’re not even one of the older players in this Under-21 squad, but how impressed have you been with the younger boys who have stepped up to this level for the first time?
Maybe I feel older because I’ve been lucky enough to play in so many first team games. It’s definitely been good for my development. Billy is a great wee player. It’s the first time I’ve met up with him and I think he’s brilliant. He’s definitely one to look out for in the future. Chris Hamilton, Elliot Watt and Glenn Middleton are in the same boat.
What do you have to do well against England?
I think if we can structure ourselves properly at the back then that gives us a platform for our attacking players to go and express themselves. I’m sure the boys will turn up because we’re not here just to make up the numbers. Everyone within the squad wants to go out there and perform. We had enough chances to win the game against Togo. Against France, I thought everyone came together and everything worked. It was brilliant. Then to get the result against South Korea that sealed top spot in the group and a place in the semis was fantastic. If you take parts of those three games into Wednesday then I’m sure we’ll give a good account of ourselves.
Watch the Semi-Final live on Free Sports UK. Free Sports UK is available on Sky (422), Freeview (95), Freesat (252), BT/TalkTalk (95) & online via the TVPlayer.
Ross Doohan (Celtic)
Robby McCrorie (Rangers)
Daniel Harvie (Aberdeen)
Jason Kerr (St Johnstone)
Chris Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian)
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Anthony Ralston (Celtic)
Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Iain Wilson (Kilmarnock)
Liam Burt (Rangers)
Allan Campbell (Motherwell)
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Fraser Hornby (Everton)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
Harvey St Clair (Chelsea)
Elliot Watt (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Oliver Burke (West Bromwich Albion)
Michael Johnston (Celtic)
Craig Wighton (Dundee)
Scott Wright (Aberdeen)
Scotland 1, Togo 1, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
Scotland 1, France 0, Stade D’Honneur, Salon
Scotland 2, South Korea 1, Stade Parsemain, Fos-Sur-Mer