UEFA Under-21 EURO 2017 Qualifier
Scotland vs Ukraine
Friday 13th November 2015, 5:45pm kick-off
St Mirren Park, Paisley

For Gordon Strachan, joining the coaching staff for the forthcoming UEFA European Under-21 qualifier against Ukraine will allow a first-hand glimpse of the future as he begins preparations for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next year.
The Scotland national coach has eschewed a November A Squad friendly in favour of a more practical and potentially beneficial role supporting Ricky Sbragia with the under-21s. It will enable him to make an up-close-and-personal assessment of those seeking to make the quantum leap from the national youth teams to the senior set-up.
He will be joined by Andy Robertson, who has answered the call to not only help the team reinvigorate their qualifying campaign but also provide an embodiment of the journey to international recognition. The Hull City full back caught the national coach’s attention when a group of Scotland under-21 players were invited to Mar Hall to provide tactical opposition for the full squad and has never looked back.
It is a story that should inspire others to follow suit. “I’m really looking forward to helping Ricky and taking a closer look at the younger age-group of players,” said Gordon.

“It’s an important qualifier for the under-21s and I will be out on the training pitch and there to help out the backroom team in whatever way Ricky requires.
“We elected not to have a friendly match in November after the disappointment of not reaching the play-offs for the European Championships but this is a good way of assessing those players in the under-21 squad with a view to the World Cup qualifiers starting at the end of next year.
“The main focus for the players should be to beat Ukraine and maintain a challenge in the group but I have said often enough that the door is open for any player who impresses over a period of time, regardless of age.”
Gordon has already opened the door to the country’s most talented young players to let them sample the unique pressures of senior international football and he believes the opportunities are there for those who impress.
“We have introduced some of the younger players to the squad already, such as Callum MacGregor, Ryan Gauld, Lewis Macleod and, most recently, Graeme Shinnie but the under-21s should look no further than players like Grant Hanley, Jordan Rhodes, James Forrest and Andy Robertson to see that it is possible to force yourself into the senior squad and stay there if you are performing well enough and consistently enough for your clubs.
“For that reason, both Ricky and I are pleased that Andy will be joining us for this match. It is a match that we want to win and to do that we need the best players available.
"Andy is still eligible and at his age it is important to play as often as you can and build-up that experience."
Gordon also believes that philosophy will be a pillar of the future Performance Strategy currently being mapped-out by the former Head of Academy at Manchester United, Brian McClair.
“We’ve spoken a lot at Hampden about the need to have better integration between the national teams so that there is a consistency of approach and standards and the players can feel comfortable on their journey through the age groups to the senior team.
“Ricky has already helped out Scot Gemmill with the under-19s and 17s, I will do my bit this time and I am sure [Scotland assistant] Stuart McCall will also be happy to help out where he can until he returns to club management.
“This is something I have talked endlessly about with Brian McClair and the coaching staff at the Scottish FA: making the journey to full international football can only come from within each player and it requires hard work, dedication and setting the highest standards possible for yourself.
“Brian’s strategy will become clearer in the coming weeks but it will be founded on those simple principles that maybe Scottish football has lost sight of. If we all work that little bit harder, eat better, live better and, most importantly of all, practice more then we will be better equipped when it comes to performing at European or international level.”

Tickets for Scotland's clash with Ukraine on Friday, 13th November can be ordered by calling the St Mirren Ticket Office on 0141 840 6130 or by visiting the office in person. Opening hours are Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm. Full details