UEFA Under-21s European Championship Qualifier, Group 4

Lithuania v Scotland

Tuesday, 8 September 2020, kick-off 4.30pm (UK time)

LFF Stadionas, Vilnius

Scotland Under-21s are set to be in action for the first time in 10 months on Tuesday, 8 September as they take on Lithuania in the European Championship Qualifiers.

One man who has arrived into the camp on a high is Lewis Ferguson, fresh from scoring Aberdeen’s winner against Hibernian last weekend.

Lewis, how does it feel to be back involved with a Scotland camp for the first time in close to a year?

It’s been so long since we were last away so it’s been great to come back and see everyone again and we’re looking forward to the game. We believe we’ve got a good chance of going over there and winning, so we’ll prepare on that basis.

Playing international football is different compared to club football and that’s a challenge I enjoy. You come across against different players with varying styles of play and that’s always a good challenge.

Working under Scot Gemmill, and also Malky Mackay is a great experience. They are so demanding and expect a high standard every session. Everything is game related which is great for the players.

Your Dad, Derek and uncle, Barry were both internationally capped by Scotland and played for the 21s. How proud are you to be also pulling on the Scotland shirt and how keen are you to follow in their footsteps and also play for the A squad?

My Dad said he didn’t play for Scotland as much as he’d like and my uncle obviously captained the country so that’s inspiring to have two people so close to me who’ve achieved that dream.

I used to watch the games when I was younger and I remember being in a pub when Barry scored the equaliser against Italy in the Euro 2008 qualifiers and the celebrations were incredible.

Every boy dreams of playing for Scotland and that is no different for me.

How do you find being a leader with Scotland Under-21s, compared to being one of the younger players at Aberdeen?

There’s a few older guys in the under-21s squad now but it’s great for the younger ones to come up and experience it as they’ll have another few campaigns they can play. This is my last year though.

I want to try and help them as much as possible and I enjoy being one of the older ones as it’s a contrast to where I’m at with Aberdeen. I’ve been fortunate to learn from leaders during my career. I played with Graeme Shinnie when he was the captain and he led by example rather than being overly vocal. I’d like to think I’m pretty vocal and I can also take the lead on the pitch in terms of my attitude.

Ross McCrorie has just joined you at Aberdeen, putting in a Man of the Match performance last weekend against Hibs. You must be happy to be alongside him this week as well, for your country?

I’ve played with him for a number of years at 21s and I’ve played against him a few times. It’s a great move for him to come to Aberdeen as he’ll get game time. We’ve formed a good partnership recently and that can only help us when we come into the international camp as we know how each other work.

I played with him when I was a lot younger, at pro youth with Rangers too so to be back playing with him now so regularly is great.

Ross’s brother Robby has been called up to the A squad for their two matches. That must give you confidence to see that clear pathway in place?

He’s deserved to get called up and I’m delighted for him. It goes to show that we’re all on the right path and it shows how important the 21s is, as it provides a real stepping-stone into the first team. We’re all focused on qualifying for the under-21 European Championships but the end goal is to get that A squad call up.

Scot and Malky have spoken to us about the number of players who have been capped in the A squad having played for the 21s and that gives us an insight into the pathway that is in place.

How do you reflect on the 21s qualifying campaign so far?

We started so well, beating San Marino and Croatia. Our standards fell against Lithuania and we should have beaten them rather than drawing 0-0. The Czech Republic game could have gone either way and the Greece game was difficult as I thought we were the better side but we ended up losing with a late penalty. The Lithuania and Greece results were bitterly disappointing but we’re still hopeful that we can go on a good run of results and qualify.

This will be the first time that you’ve had to deal with the latest COVID-19 procedures at international level. Does it change anything for you?

The procedures here are what we’ve been used to at club level so everyone is well accustomed to it now. It’s perhaps harder on international duty as usually we have roommates and we’ll go and play cards or chill and have a laugh with the boys. We’re not allowed to do that around the hotel so I’ve been watching the TV to pass the time. It’s been good timing actually as the Tottenham Hotspur All or Nothing documentary has just been released so I’ve been working my way through that.

Scotland Under-21s squad to face Lithuania