UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers
Scotland U21s v England U21s
Tuesday, 16 October 2018, kick-off 5.30pm
Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
Scotland’s Under-21s round off their UEFA Under-21 Championship qualification campaign by hosting England this evening at Tynecastle Park.
Scot Gemmill’s side are out of contention for finals qualification on the back of Friday’s defeat in Ukraine, where they emerged with credit for a spirited performance but without anything to show for it after a 3-1 loss.
With the squad depleted due to senior call-ups and injuries to regulars like Everton striker Fraser Hornby and Celtic winger Mikey Johnston, Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson has been drafted in.
Hibernian defender Ryan Porteous was a stand-out for Scotland in Ukraine, with a typically combative performance.
Now he’s looking forward to testing himself against England, who have enjoyed real success through the youth age levels in recent times.
He said: “Facing England with Scotland is like a derby when Hibs play Hearts. I really enjoyed the game in Toulon.
“We did well in the first half and the whole 15 minutes of the team talk was all about us keeping it tight and not letting them come at us.
“Then they scored three goals in the first 25 minutes of the second half. They came flying out of the traps at half-time.
“Perhaps we were just not experienced enough as a team to deal with the quality England had. We want to be ready for what they have this time.
“It doesn’t matter what the competition is or if it’s a friendly. If it’s against England we’ll do everything we can to win it.
“It’s not going to be a friendly match. It will be a heated game. We want to win it.”
Porteous pointed to Scotland stopper Scott McKenna as an inspiration.
The Aberdeen man is now an established starter for Alex McLeish’s senior side but started off the Under-21 campaign under long-term admirer Gemmill, who showed real faith in the young centre-back.
He added: “I think Scott has shown what can be done. A couple of years ago he was struggling to get a game at Ayr United but last season he was one of the best centre-backs in the league. Now he’s up there as one of the country’s best.
“Scott has shown there’s a massive chance to take there. You look up to players like him and Jack Hendry.”
Gemmill talks constantly about having to find the balance between earning results at this level against the development of players – with the ultimate ambition of providing players for the senior squad.
Given the likes of Chris Cadden, John Souttar, Lewis Morgan, Oli McBurnie and McKenna have already stepped up – with Kieran Tierney and Scott McTominay also still eligible to feature – it seems to be a process that is paying off.
Porteous can see the progression in his own game.
He said: “The physical side is definitely one of my strong points and the part of the game I enjoy most. The type of tackles I make is something the coaching staff at Hibs and Scotland have worked on quite closely.
“It’s about experience, playing games, knowing when to tackle and when to pull out. It’s something I’ve learned. I’ve done a lot of work and I’m benefiting from it.
“A big tackle, interception or block can lift the team and sometimes the crowd.”
Scotland Under-21 Squad
Alan Campbell (Motherwell)
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Chris Cadden (Motherwell)
David Bates (Hamburg SV)
Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock)
Elliot Watt (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Fraser Hornby (Everton)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)
Lewis Morgan (Celtic)
Liam Smith (Ayr United)
Michael Johnston (Celtic)
Oliver Shaw (Hibernian)
Robby McCrorie (Rangers)
Ross Doohan (Celtic)*
Ross McCrorie (Rangers)
Ross Munro (Ross County)
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Ryan Williamson (Dunfermline Athletic)
Stephen Mallan (Hibernian)
Tom McIntyre (Reading)
*on loan to Ayr United
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