Scotland aiming for first under-21s Euro qualification since 1996

2019-21 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers
Greece v Scotland
Tuesday, 17 November 2020, kick-off 4pm
Apostolos Nikolaidis, Athens
Live on Premier Sports 1 and re-shown on Freesports at 8.30pm

On Tuesday night Scotland Under-21s will look to emulate the recent success of the men’s team and qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 1996.

Scotland Under-21s have been in impressive form of late recording wins over Lithuania, San Marino and Czech Republic over the last month. There were dealt a setback at Tynecastle on Thursday afternoon when Croatia scored two first half goals but Scot Gemmill’s side showed great resilience to come back and draw 2-2 in a fiery encounter which saw both teams reduced to 10 men.

Czech Republic are currently top of the group by three points, with a game in hand. A Scotland win on Tuesday night would draw them level and their successful head-to-head record against the Czechs would allow them to progress to the Euros next year in Hungary and Slovenia. The group stage takes place from 24 to 31 March 2021, with the group winners and runners-up advancing to the eight-team knockout phase from 31 May to 6 June 2021.

Team news

Billy Gilmour is suspended for the game having been sent off against Croatia.

Aaron Hickey, Harrison Ashby, Kai Kennedy and Kyle Magennis were all ruled out of the squad prior to the Croatia match with Lewis Fiorini and Stephen Welsh called up.

Scot Gemmill's Pre-match thoughts

How do you look back on Thursday's draw against Croatia?

It was always going to be a difficult game as Croatia are a top team and we made it hard for ourselves by conceding two first half goals but the players reacted well and dug in, showing the character we know we’ve got. It’s testament to them that they managed to get us back level and we were frustrated we didn’t go on and win the game.

Both of the goalscorers on Thursday night were substitutes at the start of the game, how much does that show the strength and depth you have in your squad?

Glenn (Middleton) and Connor (McLennan) have done that brilliantly for us before and while I’m sure they’d prefer to start, when you’re not in the first 11 you need to be ready to come on and do your job. It’s great they’ve managed to influence the game from the bench as that’s always a challenge.

You’ve always said the aim of the 21s is to promote players into the A squad. Now that you’ve done that consistently and we’re one game away from qualification, what will your key messages be to the team ahead of this game?

Now we’re in this position we can focus more on qualification and this one game. Without doubt the overall focus of the 21s is on the players maximising their individual potential. In this situation I’m more willing to speak about qualification, as it would be a brilliant experience for them. Tuesday is a huge occasion and it’s something that will stand them in great stead.

The players will have the correct mentality going into Tuesday and I’m confident everyone will do their job. I have that confidence thanks to the previous performances of the team.

Greece showed they were tough opposition last time out, how big a challenge will it be to beat them?

They’re a good side. I’ve coached against them at 21s, 19s and 17s level and a lot of our players have played against them so we know how good they are. Even though they can no longer qualify that won’t change their mentality. They’ll be doing their utmost to stop us and we’ll need to be prepared for that challenge.

How determined are you to continue the feel good factor around Scottish football right now after the A squad success?

It was a brilliant achievement for the A squad to reach EURO 2020. We watched the match after our game at Tynecastle and it was an amazing result. The country is on a high right now and we’ve got our own objectives to reach a Euros next year so that’s our focus. If we were to get there it would be great for the players involved and really help their development.

Campaign so far

5 September 2019: Scotland 2-0 San Marino
10 September 2019: Croatia 1-2 Scotland
10 October 2019: Scotland 0-0 Lithuania
14 October 2019: Czech Republic 0-0 Scotland
15 November 2019: Scotland 0-1 Greece
8 September 2020: Lithuania 0-1 Scotland
9 October 2020: Scotland 2-0 Czech Republic
13 October 2020: San Marino 0-7 Scotland
12 November 2020: Scotland 2-2 Croatia
17 November 2020: Greece v Scotland

Where to watch?

Live on Premier Sports and re-shown on Freesports free-to-air at 8.30pm.

Scotland squad

Robby McCrorie (Livingston)+
Ross Doohan (Ross County)++
Brian Kinnear (Rangers)
Stephen Welsh (Celtic)
Daniel Harvie (MK Dons)
Ross McCrorie (Aberdeen)+
Barry Maguire (Motherwell)
Lewis Mayo (Dunfermline Athletic)+
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Tom McIntyre (Reading)
Nathan Patterson (Rangers)
George Johnston (Feyenoord)
Patrick Reading (Ayr United)
Lewis Fiorini (NAC Breda) +++
Allan Campbell (Motherwell)
Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen)
Billy Gilmour (Chelsea)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
David Turnbull (Celtic)
Conor McLennan (Aberdeen)
Fraser Hornby (Stade de Reims)

+ on loan from Rangers
++ on loan from Celtic
+++ on loan from Manchester City