UEFA Under-21 EURO 2017 Qualifier
Scotland vs Ukraine
Friday 13th November 2015, 5:45pm kick-off
St Mirren Park, Paisley
Hibernian midfielder John McGinn is enjoying the extra responsibility of being Scotland Under-21 captain – even if it means a bit of dressing room stick.
Scotland take on Ukraine in a crucial EURO Qualifier at St Mirren Park tomorrow with a second win of the campaign on their radar.
Last month’s 0-0 draw with Iceland at Pittodrie leaves the team on four points from three games and McGinn knows what’s needed to keep Scotland in the hunt for qualification.
He said: “It’s a tough group, and everyone is taking points off everyone else. We want to take advantage of our home games. In our last match (against Iceland in Pittodrie) we created chances that we didn’t take. We’ve been working this week, and we’re hoping to score a few tomorrow.”
The former St Mirren player will be playing in familiar surroundings and is likely to pull on the armband once again, having done so in Scotland’s last three games. McGinn says he’s happy to lend an ear to his teammates as captain even if it’s all a bit new to him:
“It was a bit strange at first, and I took a bit of stick from the boys. But it’s been good, they know that if they have any issues they can approach me, and I can be the half-way man for the squad. If they need anything done they can tell me, so I’m enjoying the responsibility.”
National Team Manager Gordon Strachan joined the squad for training at St Mirren Park today and will form part of Ricky Sbragia’s backroom staff for the game.
McGinn admits that Gordon’s presence has given the squad an added edge as they look to move up to the ranks, but he remains focused on impressing his Under-21 manager first and foremost.
He added: “I wouldn’t say that it has been too different. Gordon’s taken a back seat, and got to know us in a more informal way off the pitch. He’s let Ricky get on with his work, and watched how we have handled ourselves on and off the pitch. It’s given the boys a bit more an edge.
“Gordon manages to watch all of our games, and keeps an eye on our progress. I think it shows with what’s happened with Andy (Robertson) that he’s always looking out, and if you’re good enough you’re old enough.
“This week in training we’ve been all out to impress Ricky, and if we impress anyone else then that’s a bonus.”
With 87 appearances for St Mirren between 2012 and 2015 McGinn is well acquainted with tomorrow’s nights venue and retains fond memories from his time in Paisley:
“I’ve played there a couple of times for Scotland, and I’ve generally got good memories of the place. It was good to see people there today at training, they made me welcome, and hopefully there’ll be a good turnout tomorrow night.”
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 here.