UEFA Under-21 EURO 2017 Qualifier
Scotland vs Northern Ireland
Tuesday 29th March 2016, 4pm kick-off
Paisley 2021 Stadium

Tickets for Scotland Under-21s match against Northern Ireland can be bought at the stadium on match day, with entry at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions

Sam Nicholson believes that the experience of facing Champions League stars on Thursday holds him and his Scotland Under-21 teammates in good stead for the future.

Two second-half goals from Sébastien Haller were the difference between Scotland Under-21s and their French counterparts in Angers, and the Heart of Midlothian player believes that the Scotland players will have learnt a lot from the tough UEFA Under-21 EURO qualifier.

Speaking to the Scottish FA website, Nicholson said:

“Thursday was very tough. They had players from some of the best teams in Europe, and it was always going to be a big step-up for us. Adrien Rabiot scored at Stamford Bridge for PSG in the Champions League a few weeks ago, for example, so that was the sort of level we were up against.” 

“Despite that, I thought we played really well. We’ve got Jack to thank for keeping 0-0 for so long, he was outstanding, and we worked well as a team. Overall, it was a good experience, and a definite learning curve for the boys.”

The focus now turns to Tuesday’s qualifier against Northern Ireland in Paisley, and Nicholson admits that the match will be just as challenging for Ricky Sbragia’s side, who will be looking for a victory to keep hopes of reaching next summer’s finals in Poland alive.

“Northern Ireland will also be a difficult match, although in a different way”, he explained.

“They are difficult to break down, and we’ll need a similar performance and work ethic from when we won against them last time if we’re to get the win on Tuesday.

“We know how important it is that we get the three points if we are to qualify out of the group. We have to focus on getting the right result on Tuesday.”

Hearts are well represented in the Scotland Under-21 squad, with Nicholson joined by John Souttar, Jordan McGhee and Liam Smith. The winger feels that the continuity this creates can only be a good thing.

He said: “It’s massive for us, and for the club too. We play in a similar style with Hearts to how we play when we’re away with Scotland Under-21s.

“It’s obvious though that from the players from other clubs in the squad there is a lot of quality. Everyone wants to play in the same style, and I think a lot of that is down to Ricky and the squads he picks. We all work hard for each other, and we all have the same goal.”