UEFA Under-21 Championship Qualifiers
Scotland 0-2 Turkey
Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
Friday, 25 March, 7.05pm

Kazakhstan v Scotland
Almaty Ortalyk Stadion, Almaty
Tuesday, 29 March, 12.00pm

Scotland's Under-21s are training hard at Oriam ahead of the latest double-header, against Turkey and Kazakhstan.

The squad then face a trek to Kazakhstan on Tuesday, 29 March (12.00pm kick-off, Scottish time) for a fixture that will be screened on BBC iPlayer. 

Following his first call-up to the Scotland Under-21 squad, we caught up with Aberdeen's Connor Barron. 

Connor, congratulations on a first Scotland Under-21 call-up. That must have come as a real boost to you?

I was delighted when I heard. I was training at the time the squad was announced, so the first I knew was when I saw it on the national team’s Twitter account. It came as a great surprise and I’m really looking forward to meeting the rest of the players and getting to work with the staff. It rounds off a great few months and everything seems to be going in the right direction.

You’re fresh from being named Man of the Match in Aberdeen’s win over Hibs, having made a real impact since being introduced to the first team, but it’s obviously not an overnight success story.

Not at all. Things have fallen into place in the last few weeks, but it’s taken a lot of hard work to even get to this point. I’m nowhere near established and this is just the start of things. The two loans I had – to Brechin City and Kelty Hearts – were really important for me.

What sticks out from those?

I think every young player hopes they’ll break straight into the first team but it doesn’t often happen like that and I’ve definitely benefited from going to Brechin and Kelty, for different reasons. Results-wise, it wasn’t the best at Brechin but that in itself is probably no bad thing for a young player to experience. It’s not always going to go your way and you have to be able to dig in. Getting the chance to play regular, senior football was great. Kevin Thomson was really good to me at Kelty. That’s a team full of players who could probably be playing at a higher level and they try to play good football. We had more of the ball there and the onus was on us to break teams down, which was probably good preparation for going back to Aberdeen. I took a lot from both loans.

Are you ahead of where you thought you would be at this point?

I think the plan was for me to see out the season at Kelty and I’d have been happy to do that, but it was exciting to be called back to Aberdeen and told I’d get a chance and the coaching staff were true to their word. I owe Stephen Glass a lot for that. He told me if I’d trained well then he’d give me an opportunity. I believe in myself and my own ability, so I backed myself not to let him down. Senior football is a big jump up from the youth ranks and I felt like I’d acquitted myself well during the two loans.

Jim Goodwin’s shown a lot of faith in you early on in his tenure.

I think that’s all you can ask for as a player. There’s always uncertainty when a new manager comes in, especially when you’re a young player who has only just broken through. That’s probably no bad thing because it means no-one can afford to be complacent. The gaffer’s been great and I’m really enjoying my football. I also try to look at boys like Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie, who aren’t much older than me but have got a lot of first-team football under their belts already. I try to learn and pick up different things from various people at the cub.

Calvin Ramsey’s an established member of this Scotland Under-21 setup. Having come through the ranks with him at Aberdeen, that presumably comes as no surprise?

Calvin’s been great and I’m really pleased to see the impact he’s made for Aberdeen, which has obviously led to his opportunity with Scotland. He’s a year younger than me. He’s good technically, athletically and he’s really flourished with exposure to first-team football. He deserves the recognition he’s had.

You’ve got an eight-hour flight to Kazakhstan ahead of you after the first game against Turkey. How does that compare to any previous treks to play football?

This is a new one on me! I’m looking forward to it. It’s another thing for me to tick off and it gives me the chance to get to know a new group of people a little better. It’s all a learning curve and the sort of thing you’ll do a lot more of if you progress in first-team football, which is obviously the ultimate aim. So, it’s all good experience. I want to make sure I give my all, in training and take it from there.

You’re another one of our Scottish FA JD Performance School graduates. How do you look back on your time spent there?

The Performance School was massive for me. It can only be a good thing for young players to get those extra sessions around your schoolwork. Add up those extra touches of the ball on a daily basis and it’s a no-brainer. Stuart Glennie was my coach at Hazlehead Academy and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for my career. It’s helped make me the person and the player I am today.

Scotland Under-21s Squad
Elliot Anderson Bristol Rovers (on loan from Newcastle Utd)
Harrison Ashby West Ham Utd
Scott Banks* Crystal Palace
Connor Barron* Aberdeen
Jack Burroughs Ross County (on loan from Coventry City)
Josh Campbell Hibernian
Tom Clayton Liverpool
Lucas De Bolle (Newcastle United)
Josh Doig Hibernian
Lewis Fiorini Lincoln City (on loan from Manchester City)
Ross Graham* Dundee Utd
Jay Henderson* St Mirren
Scott High Huddersfield Town
Nicky Hogarth* Nottingham Forest
Marc Leonard* Brighton
Sam Long Drogheda (on loan from Lincoln City)
Lewis Mayo* Partick Thistle (on loan from Rangers)
Glenn Middleton St Johnstone (on loan from Rangers)
Calvin Ramsey* Aberdeen
Zak Rudden* Dundee
Cieran Slicker Manchester City
Connor Smith* Queen's Park (on loan from Heart of Midlothian)
Stephen Welsh Celtic
Ben Williamson Raith Rovers (on loan from Rangers)
*Denotes Scottish FA JD Performance School participant