Hearts defender Jordan McGhee says he can’t wait for the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifiers to get under way later this year following today’s draw.
Scotland were drawn against France, Ukraine, Iceland, FYR Macedonia and Northern Ireland in Group 3 in Nyon this morning.
The squad will open their campaign up with an away trip to Northern Ireland on Saturday, 5th September before taking on France and Iceland in a home double-header in October (venues and kick-off times to be confirmed).
The nine group winners will qualify directly for the finals in Poland with play-off places available for the four best runners-up and McGhee is determined to play his part in helping Scotland succeed.
He said: “It will be really challenging as we have drawn some tough teams but I am sure the players and backroom staff will be looking forward to getting things under way later this year.
“There are some difficult matches coming up but it’s something I want to be part of.
“France will be the favourites to win the group as the top seeds but there is a lot of belief in the squad and we are confident we can do well.”
McGhee captained the under-21 squad in their recently friendly match in Switzerland which ended 1-1, their first as a group made up of players born in 1994 or later.
Despite losing experienced players like Aberdeen midfielder Ryan Jack and recent Celtic signing Stuart Armstrong, McGhee believes there is enough talent in the new squad for them to be successful.
He said: “We lost a bit of experience with some players now too old for the under-21s but that’s the same for all the countries.
“There are a lot of good players in the new group, some playing first-team football at a high level, and if we are full strength then I think we can cause the teams in our group a lot of problems.
“Personally, I’m enjoying my involvement in the first-team at Hearts and I think it will stand me in good stead when it comes to playing international football, as I’m sure it will for the other players in the squad who are doing well at their clubs.”
Scotland coach Gordon Strachan has already included a number of young players in his recent senior squad selections, including McGhee’s Tynecastle team mate Callum Paterson.
McGhee too has aspirations of one day matching that achievement.
He said: “I was delighted to see Callum receive a call-up to the senior squad.
“It really boosted is confidence and you can see that in his play for Hearts as he is flying at the moment.
“Gordon Strachan has brought in a few young players and it would be a dream come true to receive a call-up to the senior squad but for now I am focussing on doing my best for Hearts and keeping my place in the under-21s.”
Saturday, 5 September 2015 - Northern Ireland v Scotland
Saturday, 10 October 2015 - Scotland v France
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 - Scotland v Iceland
Friday, 13 November 2015 - Scotland v Ukraine
Friday, 25 March 2016 - France v Scotland
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - Scotland v Northern Ireland
Friday, 2 September 2016 - Scotland v Macedonia
Tuesday, 6 September 2016 - Ukraine v Scotland
Wednesday, 5 October 2016 - Iceland v Scotland
Saturday, 8 October 2016 - Macedonia v Scotland
Kick-off times and match venues to be confirmed.
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