Anthony Ralston sets sights on going to Russia with Scotland
His self-belief was boosted last week when Strachan invited the teenager to join his players at Mar Hall as they prepared for their Group F tie against Lithuania in Vilnius.
Ralston is also helped by the fact that, since Alan Hutton retired from representative football, there have been no natural successors for that slot in the senior side, with his clubmate, Kieran Tierney, currently being played out of position on the right flank. He certainly has faith in his own ability.
“We’re all in this youth set-up to get to that standard, to get into the Scotland senior team,” he said. “We all want, one day, to be part of that squad.
“Last week was a great experience for me, being around very, very experienced pros and training with a really good squad. The couple of days I had there were a great learning curve for me.
“When we did our games in training, it was great for me to test myself, to see if I can stay at that level and compete at that level. I took a lot from it. The players were all brilliant with me, the coaching staff, too.
“I got a phone call a couple of days before warning me I’d be getting called up for training. It was very exciting. I’m not too sure if it was a positional thing. I’m just happy I got the call-up. A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined training with the Scotland team.
“It gives me a good confidence boost to know that the manager is even aware of me and wanted to bring me in. You get a buzz being in around those types of players.”
Scotland Under-21 manager Scott Gemmill, for his part, claims that several of the players who will face a strong Dutch team tonight could force their way into Strachan’s plans should he succeed in ending Scotland’s 20-year exile from the finals of major tournaments.
“There is nothing to be scared of,” he said. “Our best young players will play against a nation who have consistently produced top players and I really feel this is how we can help to give our players the best chance of progressing to the full squad,” he said. “It’s not rocket science; everyone knows it works.
“So why can’t we be optimistic in that regard? These young players have shown that at international level. Tony Ralston went to Toulon [for the Under-20 tournament] and has been great with his club. I do think it’s achievable.”
l Tickets for tonight’s match at the Paisley 2021 Stadium (7.30pm) are £5 for adults and £2 for concessions and will be available at the gate.