Fraser Hornby sees no reason why Scotland can’t upset the odds and book a place in the final of the Toulon tournament.
Scot Gemmill’s side go toe to toe with England tonight in Aubagne – a year on from defeat at the same stage of the prestigious youth competition to the Auld Enemy.
With the age range raised this year to Under-21 level, England can call on some of the players who led them to Under-20 World Cup glory last summer.
Hornby, though, isn’t easily intimidated on or off the pitch and the towering Everton forward points to the ability and character within the Scotland ranks as proof they can go a stage further.
Fraser, England will be favourites for the semi-final but there must be real confidence within the Scotland squad after the way you’ve all performed over the three games so far in France?
Definitely. It’s not often you beat a team like France, especially on their own soil. It was an unbelievable achievement from the boys and shows the character that this squad has. We believe we can beat anyone on our day, so I don’t see why we can’t go on and win the tournament now. It will be great to test ourselves against them, especially after their Under-20 side won the World Cup last year. But after beating France I don’t see why we can’t beat England now.
We were used to seeing you in a midfield role for Scotland’s Under-19s, but you seem to be enjoying a new lease of life up front. How have you found the change of position?
I like a physical battle. I’m still adapting to the position and have only been playing up front for Everton from this season, so I still have a lot to learn up there. But it’s now where I see myself going forward for the rest of my career. It wasn’t really a surprise for me because I was a midfielder that always had an eye for goal. When Everton moved me up front I wasn’t hesitant. It felt natural and I used my instincts. They saw me score four goals against Stoke City in a league games – one of my first games as a striker – and the week after I scored a hat-trick against Manchester City. Since then I haven’t played in any other position. There was no looking back after that!
You were lucky enough to feature for Everton in the Europa League last season. What are your goals for the new campaign?
My ultimate goal is to play as many games in the Premier League as I can. So to get tested like this at international level will only stand me in good stead for when I get a few games. I managed to break into the Everton Under-23 side and became a regular. Then I made my debut for the first team in Europe, which capped off a really good campaign. I just hope next season I get a few more chances.
One of your coaches at Everton, Duncan Ferguson, is a well-known figure to Scottish football supporters. How much of a help has he been?
Duncan is a fantastic person to learn from, especially because he played in the same position. I’ve had the pleasure of training with the first team quite a lot and he’s been really good with me. He understands I’m still getting used to the position. So I’m taking all of his advice on board and hopefully it will make me a better player. You get a sense of Duncan’s iconic status at Everton every day. He’s a legend down there. When you travel to away games, all the fans want pictures with him. When managers have come and gone, he’s still around the place. New managers come in and realise what a big character he is at the club. He always knew I was in and around the Scottish youth teams so he took me under his wing. He has looked after me down there. Everton have a history of Scottish strikers with Duncan, Graham Sharp and Andy Gray. Ultimately my aim is to be playing in the first team for Everton and Scotland.
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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
Scotland v England, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne (6.30pm kick-off, GMT)