Scotland U21 v Malta U21
UEFA Under-21 EURO 2025 Qualifier
Tuesday, 17 October, kick-off 5:30pm
Fir Park, Motherwell
Scot Gemmill's Under-21 side are back in action on Tuesday night as they host Malta at Fir Park.
The young Scots claimed an impressive 3-1 win over Hungary on Friday night and they will be looking to back this up and claim maximum points from the double header.
Scotland raced out of the traps against Hungary, with Kieron Bowie bagging a double and Ben Doak converting a penalty. Hungary pulled a goal back but Scotland saw the game out in the second half.
Max Johnston has been rewarded for his recent performances for the Under-21s with a call-up to the senior squad ahead of their friendly against France tomorrow in Lille.
Ben Doak and Dire Mebude will both miss out on Tuesday night through injury.
Scot Gemmill has called up two replacements, with Livingston's Steven Bradley receiving his first call-up at Under-21 level.
Rory Wilson is also named in the squad after scoring for the Under-19s against Portugal on Sunday.
Leon King made his Under-21s debut last summer in Denmark and the Rangers defender has been an ever-present since.
The 19-year-old has also impressed while playing in central midfield in the last two matches.
King caught us with us ahead of tomorrow night's match, as the young Scots look to take maximum points from this home double header.
Leon – thanks for chatting to us. Firstly, how pleased are you with the team’s performance and the result on Friday against Hungary?
It was difficult last month over in Spain, not coming away with anything after playing so well in the match. I think it was important for us to go in front of a home crowd and get a performance and put three points on the board.
With the Pot 3 and Pot 4 teams involved on Friday, it could have been a tight affair but we were relentless in that first half.
That’s the thing with international football. Every country is very good. It’s the best players in each nation so we knew it wouldn’t be easy but we went into the game with a game plan and we were ruthless in the early stages of the match. We were clinical and you have to be at this level because chances are few and far between. It’s something we’ve spoken about in training and thankful we put it into practice on Friday night.
We have to talk about your position in centre midfield. You’ve certainly looked at home there in the last two matches. How did that move come about?
I just turned up for training ahead of the Spain game and Scot said he was thinking of playing me in centre midfield. I was a wee bit taken aback at first but I’m really enjoying it and obviously it’s been good playing there in the last two games. To be honest it’s not a position I’ve played for a long time but it’s great. There’s a bit more freedom for me to put my mark on the game. It’s good playing with Connor Barron as well. He obviously plays there for his club and he’s been playing really well so it’s great having him alongside me.
You got your first taste of Under-21 football in Denmark last summer. How have you found the step up to this level and do you enjoy being one of the more experienced ones?
It’s great because in the younger age groups you don’t really get this group qualification format as much. It was good to get a taste of that against big teams like Belgium and Denmark and to come on against Denmark was brilliant. That experience has helped me coming into this campaign and I try to help the younger lads and the new lads. This group is really coming on in terms of togetherness. Winning games helps too.
Because you made your professional debut over two years ago, it’s easy to forget that you are only 19 which is still very young – for a central defender in particular. You must be pleased to have played so much first team football already?
It’s great. Obviously I look back and this time last year I would have bit your hand of to have played so many games. It’s been amazing but it’s time to get my head down now and kick on – for club and country.
You also gained experienced in the UEFA Champions league last year against Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax. Not many 18-year-olds get exposed to those kind of tests.
It’s so surreal to be a young player and to be playing six games in the Champions League. Obviously the results weren’t what we wanted but the experience is something I’ll be forever grateful for and it’s something that will always be at the back of my mind. My family are really proud as well so I just need to take that experience and try to help others around me in the squad here.
The senior team is on a high at the moment after qualifying last night for UEFA EURO 2024. You got a taste of the A squad as you joined them for a training camp in Spain in May. How was that experience?
I’m very thankful to Steve and his staff to get that opportunity to train with them out in Spain. It’s obviously an ambition to get into the A squad and I’ll just need to keep my head down here and continue to put in good performances.
Just finally, having secured a big win on Friday, is it now a case of making sure we back it up by getting the three points on Tuesday as well?
The lads have all been talking about the fact that we want to end this double header with six points going into the games in November. If we can win both games it will put us in a great position for those away games.
How To Watch
Tickets for the match are available here.
The match will be streamed live on the Scotland National Team Youtube Channel. Andrew MacLean and Scotland international Chris Cadden will be the commentary team for the match.
Accessibility Adults: £7
Accessibility Concessions: £3
SSC Members: FREE. Scotland Supporters Club members can gain free entry via Turnstile 1, with their match ticket being provided following the presentation of a membership card.
*Please note accessibility tickets can be purchased by contacting Motherwell FC Ticket Office on 01698 333333. For accessbility tickets, an accompanying ticket for a carer can be purchased free of charge.
Matthew Anderson FC Admira Wacker Modling (on loan from Celtic)
Connor Barron* Aberdeen
Ibane Bowat TSV Hartberg (on loan from Fulham)
Kieron Bowie Northampton Town (on loan from Fulham)
Steven Bradley Livingston
Aidan Denholm Heart of Midlothian
Ben Doak Liverpool
Ryan Duncan Aberdeen
Emilio Lawrence Manchester City
Alex Lowry* Heart of Midlothian (on loan from Rangers)
Leon King Rangers
Ben McPherson Queen's Park (on loan from Celtic)
Michael Mellon Morecambe (on loan from Burnley)
Liam Morrison* Wigan Athletic (on loan from Bayern Munich)
Jeremiah Mullen Leeds United
Josh Mulligan* Dundee
Jack Newman Dundee United
Lewis Neilson* Partick Thistle (on loan from Heart of Midlothian)
Finlay Robertson Dundee
Cieran Slicker Ipswich Town
Jude Smith Newcastle United
Kerr Smith Aston Villa
Rory Wilson* Aston Villa
*Denotes Scottish FA JD Performance School graduate