Ahead of Friday’s Scotland Under-21s match against Latvia at McDiarmid Park, kick-off 7.30pm, Chris Cadden spoke about the campaign thus far, Allan Campbell’s nickname at Motherwell and his current form at Motherwell as the Betfred Cup Final looms.
How important was that win over the Netherlands to open the campaign? Not just in points terms but for squad morale as well.
There haven’t been many Scotland teams that have beaten the Dutch at any level, so it was a real achievement. It was a big night for us. You could see on the faces of everyone involved afterwards just how much it meant. Scot Gemmill gave us a game-plan that worked out perfectly. Off the ball, I thought we were brilliant. They’ve players playing at the top level but we managed to press them and they were restricted to only one real opportunity. On the ball we managed to create and then take our chances.
Ultimately you’d have been disappointed to leave the second match against England with a defeat but, nevertheless, it must have been a proud moment to score your first goal for Scotland?
It was a proud night for our room! I share with Oli McBurnie and he set up the goal for me. He’d say it was all about the assist but I still had a bit to do. I’m not giving him all the credit. On the night I was gutted we didn’t get the result we were after and that’s still the overriding feeling, but it was still special to score my first goal for Scotland at any age level. My Dad and my Uncle were down for the game and I know they loved the full experience.
As a group you bounced back in style away to Latvia. Coming hot on the heels of the England game, how important was it to respond in the right manner?
Latvia are a decent side and the conditions were difficult between the rain, the wind and the heavy pitch but we handled it well. It would have been easy for us to trip up in that one but I thought we turned in a really professional performance and it maybe shows the kind of character we’ve got in the squad.
We’re used to seeing you fly up and down the flank with Motherwell but you’ve been asked to play a different role for Scotland. How much have you enjoyed that added responsibility?
I play wing-back for Motherwell but Scot’s had me playing inside one for Scotland. You’re more involved in the centre of midfield so it’s been enjoyable. It can only help me improve but, to be honest, I’d play wherever I was asked if it meant I was playing for Scotland.
Your Motherwell team-mate, Allan Campbell, has made a big impression on the Scotland Under-21 side of late. He’s just been rewarded with a new long-term contract at Fir Park after establishing himself as one of the first names on the team-sheet. How highly do you rate him?
I know our Chief Operating Officer at Motherwell, Alan Burrows, calls Allan ‘The Lanarkshire Kante’. That’s not a bad start.
Off the pitch, Allan is the nicest guy you could meet. He’s everyone’s mate around the place and is always offering to help out. He genuinely is the first into training and the last to leave. On the park he’s a different animal.
Even in training he will nip away at your ankles. I’m convinced he keeps a wee black book at home of people who have annoyed him and he targets them. He’s definitely one you want in your team.
I think people outside of the club have been surprised at how consistent he’s been but we’ve known for a long time that he’s a talent who just needed a run of games. I’m glad he’s getting the chance to show that for Scotland as well.
Motherwell have been well represented through the various age levels with Scotland in the last few years. Who should we be keeping an eye on?
Ross MacLean is a midfielder who is a year younger than me. He scored an important goal against Ross County in the League Cup, which played a big part in us going all the way to the final. Jamie Semple is also a fantastic prospect.
He was training with the first team when he was still at school and has done well for Scotland’s Under-17s. You can see there’s no fear in him. David Turnbull’s another one. There are a few at Motherwell who have a real chance.
You’ve got a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks between this double-header and the League Cup Final…
It’s a really exciting time for me. It sounds obvious, but my focus is on getting two wins for Scotland. That would hopefully put us in a good position for the rest of the qualifying campaign. The League Cup Final will be another great occasion. I’ll have my friends and family there supporting me so hopefully we can go one more step. It’s easier said than done but someone has to beat Celtic. Why not us?