John Souttar: Scotland players ‘let down’ Ricky Sbragia

Hearts' John Souttar spoke to the media after returning from international duty. Picture: SNS

Hearts' John Souttar spoke to the media after returning from international duty. Picture: SNS

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Scotland Under-21s defender John Souttar admits the players let down departed coach Ricky Sbragia.

Sbragia, who has been replaced by Scot Gemmill, quit his role after defeats to Macedonia and Ukraine ended Scotland’s chances of qualifying for next summer’s European finals.

The Scots had only taken eight points from eight games and Hearts defender Souttar, who was sent off in the 4-0 loss to Ukraine on Tuesday, admits performances were not good enough.

“We’re disappointed, we let him down to an extent,” he said. “We didn’t play our best, we didn’t do stuff well. It’s disappointing but that’s football and people move on.

“Ricky has given me a lot of chances personally, so it’s tough to see him go but it’s a new chapter now so we’ll see what happens.”

When asked what went wrong with the campaign, Souttar said: “I don’t know, it’s tough to put our finger on it. We’ve discussed it ourselves and it is tough because it just felt in the first game (against Macedonia) that we created a lot of chances compared to them.

“They had one shot on goal and were really clinical. It’s tough to put a finger on it, it’s just disappointing.”

Souttar is now relishing the chance to work with Gemmill, who was promoted from the under-19s set-up while Sbragia goes back to working with younger players.

“I don’t think the boys expected Sbragia to go so I was surprised,” he said. “He told us after the game and said thanks for everything and we said thanks to him and that was it.

“I’ve worked with Scot Gemmill on one trip so I don’t know too much about him but I’m looking forward to meeting him and I’ve heard a lot of good things about him.”

Meanwhile, Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson believes Souttar, Sam Nicholson and Liam Smith will not need to be lifted after the under-21s disappointment ahead of the visit of Hamilton on Saturday.

He said: “There will be no issue about confidence at all. The three of them that were away with the 21s have been magnificent for us from the start of the season so they’ll just come straight back into it and there will be no problems at all.”

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