Fraser Hornby headed home the Celtic winger’s teasing free-kick, while he regularly tormented the Togolese defence with is repertoire of tricks.
However, that wasn’t enough for the self-critical 19-year-old, who hopes to step it up a gear in tomorrow’s test against host nation France.
You earned a lot of plaudits for your performance against Togo. What was your take on a tough opening game?
I was happy with my assist for Fraser and I did some good things in the game but I feel like I could have done a lot more. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play in the next game against France and help the team out. It was tough against Togo but that’s why you come to competitions like this, for a different kind of experience against nations that you’re not used to coming up against. I think there were a lot of positives to take into Wednesday.
After making your Celtic debut back in May 2017 with a fine showing in a 4-1 win over St Johnstone, a thigh injury seemed to disrupt your last campaign. How frustrating was that?
‘Frustration; is the word. The injury held me back but hopefully coming to Toulon with Scotland will help kick me on for next season. It was a bad time for me. Some of the other wingers at the club were injured so I would have had the opportunity to play. I was only out for around nine weeks – when it was originally expected to be more like 12 – but it did disrupt things. I’m still young and getting to know my body. My manager, Brendan Rodgers, talked to me throughout the time I was out and reassured me. All footballers will experience injuries at some point and it’s just part of the learning curve.
Your showings for club and country generated a bit of excitement. How have you adapted to being a more familiar face for supporters?
I haven’t really felt any added pressure. I think when you come through the ranks at a club like Celtic then there’s always competition so that doesn’t faze me. If you’re worried about that then there’s no point being there. As a Celtic supporter myself, I know that the fans want to see their own young players progress. At the end of the day, it’s down to me. I’m confident in my own ability and I think I have the confidence of the people within the setups for Celtic and Scotland.
How did you use your time out of the side?
I’d had a taste of playing for the first team so I wanted to get back to that but I took the time to learn when I was out. I would watch the players in my position and try to note tactical points, like the way they moved, instead of just following the ball like a fan. The way I see it, I want to be where the likes of James Forrest is for Celtic and Scotland so I watched him closely and still did the video analysis work. I wouldn’t want that spell out again but, when you’re in the middle of it, you just have to make the best of the situation.
Your Scotland Under-21 coach, Scott Gemmill, and club manager, Brendan Rodgers, both expect their attacking wide players to work hard for the team when not in possession. Have you had to adapt your natural game?
Defensively I need to do what the coaches want, especially on the defensive side of the game and tactically in general. You need to do your job for the team or you won’t play. It’s as simple as that.
Finally, what do you expect from France on Wednesday?
We saw a bit of their opening game against South Korea before our own game against Togo and they’re obviously a good team with talented players. But we think we have enough in our on team to hopefully trouble them and get a good result.
Ross Doohan (Celtic)
Robby McCrorie (Rangers)
Daniel Harvie (Aberdeen)
Jason Kerr (St Johnstone)
Chris Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian)
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Anthony Ralston (Celtic)
Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Iain Wilson (Kilmarnock)
Liam Burt (Rangers)
Allan Campbell (Motherwell)
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Fraser Hornby (Everton)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
Harvey St Clair (Chelsea)
Elliot Watt (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Oliver Burke (West Bromwich Albion)
Michael Johnston (Celtic)
Craig Wighton (Dundee)
Scott Wright (Aberdeen)
Group A: China, England, Mexico, Qatar
Group B: France, Scotland, South Korea, Togo
Group C: Canada, Japan, Portugal, Turkey
Scotland 1 Togo 1, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
Scotland v France, Wednesday 30 May, kick-off 6.30pm (UK time), Stade D’Honneur, Salon (Watch via Facebook Live – Free Sports UK)
Scotland v South Korea, Saturday 2 June, kick-off 2pm (UK time), Stade Parsemain, Fos-Sur-Mer (Live on Free Sports UK)
*Schedule subject to change depending on broadcaster's preferences.
Free Sports UK available on Sky (422), Freeview (95), Freesat (252), BT/TalkTalk (95) & via the TVPlayer.