FORMER Scotland striker John McGinlay has agreed to become a scout as part of the new national team set-up under manager Gordon Strachan.
McGinlay – capped 13 times – will run the rule over both experienced and youth team players based in the north-west of England.
Former Bolton player McGinlay, who returned from the US at the end of last year following a spell as assistant manager at Cincinnati Kings, said: “From my point of view, it is an interesting role because it means I’ll be getting round a lot of games and seeing a few old faces.
“Quite a lot of it will involve looking at younger players in the development squads and academies who would qualify to play for Scotland, so it’s not just a case of going to watch a Jordan Rhodes or a Steven Naismith.
“There are some very good players at clubs like Everton, Leeds and Blackburn Rovers that people will know all about, but part of my role will be to look at the younger lads.
“It’s not just first-team players because there might be a few lads out there who go under the radar.”
The latest Fifa rankings were published yesterday and there was an early boost for the new management team as Scotland went up five spots to 64th after Strachan’s opening-match 1-0 win over Estonia at Pittodrie.
England’s 2-1 friendly win over Brazil on the same night earned them a two-place rise to fourth in the latest rankings. Roy Hodgson’s men enjoyed a memorable night at Wembley and can now look up at just three teams in the list, with Spain remaining the top-ranked side while Germany and Argentina are unmoved in second and third respectively.
The rankings, which come on the back of the Africa Cup of Nations, push Nigeria up 22 places to 30th following their tournament win, while runners-up Burkina Faso move from 82nd to 55th.
Ivory Coast’s 12th-place is their best-ever ranking. The Republic of Ireland rise two places to 39th, Scotland’s World Cup group rivals Wales moved 13 up to 68th after beating Austria, but Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland dropped out of the top-100 following their draw with Malta.
Meanwhile, Billy Stark admits the transient nature of international under-21 football can be a cause of frustration as he prepares to assemble a mostly new Scotland squad for the 2015 European Under-21 Championship qualification campaign, which begins next month.
The young Scots kick off on 25 March with a home match against Luxembourg and they will also face Holland, Slovakia and Georgia in Group Three, with the group winners and four best-placed runners-up from the ten qualifying groups progressing to the play-offs.
Scotland were undefeated at home in the 2013 qualifying campaign as they finished second in their group, narrowly missing out on a play-off place for this summer’s finals.
Speaking at St Mirren Park, which will again host the home games, Scotland Under-21 coach Stark said: “You know it will be a very difficult task because you need to win five games out of eight, six to be guaranteed, and you go into every game knowing that there is no margin for error at all.
“The previous squads have not been too frightened about it; they have not been too far away.
“I would love to think this squad could take that final step and get us to finals, but it is going to be really difficult.
“You feel by getting so close with the last squad that, if you kept working with them, you could maybe just find that wee bit extra, but then they become too old and you have to start again.
“There is a big element of the new, but we have some continuity from the last squad with the likes of Stuart Armstrong, Lewis Toshney, Tony Watt and Kenny McLean, and that is an important aspect. I think there is a good nucleus and good strength-in-depth in a squad who are capable of winning games.”