Ewan Urain: Who is the Bilbao Athletic striker in the Scotland Under-21 squad?

There were more than a few new faces in the Scotland Under-21 squad named by Scot Gemmill for next month’s friendly matches against Northern Ireland but perhaps the most intriguing is striker Ewan Urain.

Ewan Urain has been called into the Scotland Under-21 squad for the first time

Basque-born to a Biscayan father and Scottish mother the 21-year-old plays for Athletic Bilbao’s second-string side, Bilbao Athletic, in the Spanish third tier and has contributed four goals in 18 matches this term.

Career history

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Urain – or Ewan Urain Roy Aird to give him his full name – joined Los Leones in 2015 after a spell with hometown side Cultural Durango in Biscay.

He turned out for the club at Under-16 and Under-17 level before hitting 19 goals for the Under-18 side. In 2018 he scored 13 goals for Spanish fourth-tier side CD Basconia, based in Basauri, which serves as a feeder club for Athletic Bilbao and is viewed as the top-flight side’s unofficial ‘C’ team.

Notable players to have turned out for Basconia include Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga; midfielder Ander Iturraspe, who made more than 300 appearances for Athletic Bilbao; Manchester City and Spain defender Aymeric Laporte, and former Swansea, Spurs, and Juventus striker Fernando Llorente, currently with Napoli.

Urain has since spent two seasons playing for the club’s B team, although he has been training with the first team since the start of the 2020/21 campaign following a request from then manager Gaizka Garitano. He featured in three pre-season friendlies, coming close to setting up a goal in a 2-2 draw with SD Eibar and providing an assist for Iker Muniain in a 3-1 defeat by UD Logroñés.

Urain has had some injury problems over the past nine months but still made an impression for Joseba Etxeberria’s side.

Bilbao Athletic finished second in the initial stage of Segunda Division B in Group 2 Subgroup A, qualifying for the promotion groups where they again finished second and reached the promotion play-offs.

Although the side defeated Celta Vigo’s B team – including another young Scot in Jordan Holsgrove – in the first round with Urain scoring the winner, they lost to Burgo in extra time in the second round. However, their performance will see them compete in the brand new Primera División RFEF, which will serve as the country’s new third tier, from the start of the 2021/22 season.

Urain’s contract expires this summer but he is in talks over a new long-term deal with the Basque outfit.

Style of play

At 6ft 4in, Urain is a clear like-for-like replacement for Fraser Hornby.

Aerially strong as expected, he is also comfortable with the ball at his feet and chalks up a fair number of assists as well as goals.

What has Gemmill said?

"He is playing at a very good level, at a club which historically is very strong at academy level."I have spoken to him, he is in the process of signing a new long-term contract and that gives real confidence to select him.

"We are looking forward to working with him and giving him the opportunity to come and get involved with the team."

When are the Under-21s in action?

Both matches against their Northern Ireland counterparts will take place at Dumbarton’s stadium on Wednesday, June 2 and Saturday, June 5 as part of Gemmill’s preparations for the 2023 European Under-21 Championship qualifiers.

However, the games will be played behind closed doors with no fans in attendance.

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