MARK McGhee has earmarked Aiden McGeady as being one of the men to watch ahead of this weekend’s Group D Euro 2016 showdown with Republic of Ireland.
The Scotland assistant coach yesterday accepted there was only so much anyone could take out of Sunday’s 0-0 draw between Republic of Ireland and England, a match which was roundly condemned by many observers.
But McGhee, who watched the game along with manager Gordon Strachan, revealed that they had been reminded of the potential for danger posed by McGeady, the former Celtic winger, now at Everton.
His energetic performance alerted the Scotland management team to what the Paisley-born player can do when he is on form.
McGeady has the added motivation of knowing he is playing against the country whose fans mercilessly booed him in the first Euro 2016 qualifying clash between the teams in November. McGhee promised that Scotland will be “prepared” for the task of dealing with the winger.
McGeady took the heat after being branded a “traitor” by former Scotland international Gordon McQueen, amongst others, having elected to play for the Republic of Ireland rather than Scotland.
Everton team-mate James McCarthy, who also grew up in Scotland but chose to play for Ireland, was absent due to injury for the Celtic Park clash so McGeady took the full force of the crowd’s displeasure. Now McGhee believes he will be desperate to exact some revenge following Scotland’s 1-0 win.
“If there was one thing that I took out of the game yesterday [in Dublin] it was McGeady’s body language,” he said. “I thought it was excellent and I thought he looked right at it.
“I think he was preparing himself seriously for this game so I think we can expect a big game out of him.
“I think that our supporters gave him a hard time in the home game,” added McGhee. “He knows all our players and would have been hurt by that [losing]. So I think he is just looking for a wee bit of revenge and I think you saw that in him yesterday. That can bring extra 10 per cent from a player?
“As a player, I played better when I was a little bit angry over something. If you have that bit of an edge to you it can make you a better player. We know what he is capable of so we will be prepared for it.”
McGhee is confident victory for Scotland this weekend will almost certainly secure at least a play-off place in Group D. He confirmed that three points is both his and Strachan’s aim.
“With no disrespect, we would both expect to beat Gibraltar so we would be five points ahead [of Ireland] with three games to play,” he said. “That would make it very difficult for them to get up on us. It wouldn’t be impossible but it would be difficult.”