UEFA Under-17 Championship Finals
Scotland v Portugal
Lod Municipal Stadium, Lod
Tuesday, 17 May (6pm kick-off, UK)

Scotland kick off their UEFA Under-17 Championship Finals on Tuesday, with a Group D opener against Portugal – who have been heavily tipped to win the tournament.

Head Coach Brian McLaughlin has travelled to Israel with the youngest squad in the competition, but he is in no mood to simply make up the numbers.

While he’s encouraged his players to soak up every new experience along the way, he wants them to leave it all on the pitch and see where it takes them.

Brian, the squad arrived in the early hours of Friday morning and now have three training sessions under their belts. How would you assess the first few days in Israel?

It’s been great. It was a long, gruelling journey but that’s not something to complain about it. It’s just something for them to deal with as young athletes and professionals. To their credit, they’ve done that and the attitude in training has been first class. Now we’re getting closer to the first game against Portugal, you can feel the boys getting excited. We’ll be ready to go.

How do you find a balance of enjoying the experience and pushing them to perform?

I think you can do both and we are fortunate to have a very focused group who have all bought into what we want to do. To give the best account of themselves, I do think they need to enjoy it and that’s a message we’ve tried to reinforce every time we’ve met up as a group. Enjoy being together, travelling, visiting new countries but also enjoy training hard and being professional because that’s what makes you a better player.

The heat on that first day in training was a bit of an eye-opener for some young players who haven’t experienced those conditions before, but they seem to have taken it in their stride since.

That’s to their credit, and the same applies to the staff. The challenges that will come have been made clear to them. There shouldn’t be any surprises and I don’t want any excuses or moaning. Regardless, I don’t expect that from this group. They are a pleasure to work with. We travelled a few days early to help with that adaptation process. When Tuesday comes, we’ll be ready to play.

You’ve taken the youngest squad in the tournament to Israel. How does that feel?

I’m proud of that. In the two qualifying rounds I was conscious that we had a younger group, so for them to qualify is an achievement in itself. We’ll play teams who are older and, maybe, more mature physically but that doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t compete. Seven of them can go again at this age-group next season and will be all the better for the experience and that’s if they’re not fast-tracked to the Under-19s. Either way, I’ll be delighted.

Tactics aside, is there anything you want to see from them across the three games? Starting with Portugal.

I want to see their personality. They’re all here because they’re good players, with the potential to be even better. Your character and personality is put to the test in these tournament situations. There are eight nations stating in one hotel, so it gets pretty crowded at mealtimes. You want players to stand tall and feel like they belong at this elite level. They have done everything asked of them so far in terms of the professionalism off the pitch and application in training, but it’s showtime when the referee blows his first whistle against Portugal. We’re here to try and perform.

What do you expect from Portugal?

They’re a very good team. They’re technically superb – as you would imagine – and they’re a very physical team. They’re one of the older teams in the tournament. They’re justifiably one of the favourites to go all the way. A handful of them play for the Benfica team that just won the youth football equivalent of the Champions League and others are in and around first teams. They’re a nation with a proud history of developing world class footballers, but that’s why we’re here. To challenge ourselves against the very best. I’m looking forward to it and I know the players will be as well.

How to watch?

All of Scotland's matches will be shown live by the BBC - on iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the Red Button channel.

Scotland Under-17 Squad

Greig Allan Rangers
Cameron Bruce* Queen’s Park
Cameron Cooper* Partick Thistle
Josh Dede Celtic
Louis Jackson Manchester Utd
Jack Kingdom Manchester Utd
Ethan Laidlaw Hibernian
Dylan Lobban* Aberdeen
Magnus Mackenzie Celtic
Rory MacLeod* Dundee Utd
Rory Mahady Celtic
Charlie McArthur* Kilmarnock
Callan McKenna* Queen’s Park
Lennon Miller Motherwell
Craig Moore* Dundee Utd
Lewis O’Donnell Dundee Utd
Jacob Pazikas Rangers
Dylan Reid* St Mirren
Bailey Rice* Motherwell
Bobby Wales* Kilmarnock
Rory Wilson* Rangers
*Denotes Scottish FA JD Performance School participant

Fixtures

Scotland v Portugal
Lod Municipal Stadium, Lod
Tuesday, 17 May (6pm kick-off, UK)

Denmark v Scotland
Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan
Friday, 20 May (12.30pm, UK)

Sweden v Scotland
Lod Municipal Stadium, Lod
Monday, 23 May (6pm, UK)