Scot Gemmill is adamant there will be no inferiority complex when his Scotland Under-21 side step out on to the field against England in the semi-final of the Toulon tournament tonight.
A year on from losing to the Auld Enemy at the same stage of the prestigious competition, Gemmill is buoyed by what he’s seen from a group of players who have given their all in France – topping a group that contained the hosts, South Korea and Togo.
While England deserve respect – particularly on the back of a sustained period of success across the various youth levels – and are backed by significant resources, Gemmill will send his men out with the message that they have earned the right to be here and they should trust in their ability to go a step further.
Scot, understandably there’s been a bit of talk about the depth of talent available to England and the resources they’re able to make use of in terms of extra staff, but that must be something you’re used to.
It’s the same for all the countries with big budgets, in terms of the depth of staff they have. The Germans are the same. They also have their own chef at Under-17 level. It doesn’t concern us greatly but it’s a real insight into the level England are operating at. Someone told me the FA recently paid for Brazil’s Under-17s to play their Under-17s in Spain because they didn’t have an opponent. Again, that shows the resources they’ve got but it doesn’t mean we should feel inferior to them or concede this game.
“You could say the same about the French, Brazilians or Dutch – and we’ve beaten all of them.
“It’s nice to have it but it’s all down to what happens in the game.
“We know England are one of the best teams out here and it’s going to be a very difficult game. We need to prepare well and we’ll do everything in our power to find a way to win.”
It’s the second year in succession that you’ve led Scotland to the semi-final stage of the Toulon tournament. Along the way you’ve beaten Brazil and France. Will it take a similar level of performance today to beat England?
It’s going to take absolutely everything from us to win. We need to be correct tactically, physically and our keeper will have to make saves, but hopefully we’ve done enough over here to be optimistic. You don’t win the games we have by fluke. If you list the teams we’ve beaten at youth level over the past 18 months, we’ve shown we can do it. We’ll make sure the boys are ready and try to produce another big win.”
You’ve successfully rotated your two goalkeepers – Robby McCrorie and Ross Doohan – so far. Does that give you a tough decision to make?
Ross has done well for us, while Robby was out at Berwick on loan and played well so we’re delighted to have them. It’s good to know we can trust them and we’re trying to use this tournament to give them experience. You try to pick someone you think can make saves at the right time. The two boys have put themselves in a great position.
Watch the Semi-Final live on Free Sports UK. Free Sports UK is available on Sky (422), Freeview (95), Freesat (252), BT/TalkTalk (95) & online via the TVPlayer.
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)
Scotland 1, Togo 1, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne
Scotland 1, France 0, Stade D’Honneur, Salon
Scotland 2, South Korea 1, Stade Parsemain, Fos-Sur-Mer
Scotland v England, Stade de Lattre, Aubagne (6.30pm kick-off, GMT)