Scotland under-21s: McLean on high as he learns to handle great expectation
ST MIRREN midfielder Kenny McLean is relishing the increased expectation on him as he bids to win his third Scotland Under-21 cap this week.
McLean has become a key player for St Mirren and was among the four young players shortlisted for the PFA Scotland award last season.
McLean has firmly forced his way into Billy Stark’s plans and could play on Thursday as Scotland face Luxembourg in their penultimate Uefa Under-21 Championship group game.
“It’s a massive year for myself,” the 20-year-old said. “I feel after last season there is maybe more expectation on myself after doing well.
“So I need to keep the standards up and try to better last season. I’m sure I can do that.
“The expectation is always going to be there after getting the young player nomination and pushing myself into the Scotland squad towards the end of the season.
“So I feel there is expectation and hopefully I can handle that and deal with it the right way.
“You just have to take everything in your stride. Confidence is a massive thing and when you’re in the 21s it gives me a massive boost to my confidence. I’m obviously playing every week for my club so I’m enjoying it.”
McLean’s form has seen him linked with the likes of Burnley but he is glad the transfer window has closed.
“Speculation was there, but that’s all it was,” the Rutherglen-born player said. “Nothing was said, I didn’t hear anything. It was just rumours. The window is shut now so I can just concentrate on doing what I’m doing.”
Scotland sit second in their group but Stark has given them a target of six points from their final two games against Luxembourg and Austria as only the four best runners-up join the ten group winners in the play-offs. “We know if we win the two games there’s a chance we’ll go through,” McLean said. “If we win on Thursday at St Mirren Park the final game is a cup final for us. We’re definitely confident. We have got results in Holland and are unbeaten, so we will take that into Thursday.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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