Experience of first-team football at club level proving invaluable for young Scots

THE Scotland Under-21 team members who shocked the Dutch in Nijmegen this week have a familiar look about them.

The majority have made the breakthrough in senior club football already, instead of being plucked from the anonymity of reserve team football at a big club where a manager cannot afford to take a chance on them in the first team. Scotland Under-21 coach Billy Stark is reaping the benefit of their exposure to the senior game at this stage of their careers.

Mark Ridgers

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The Hearts goalkeeper is one of the few players in the team who is still having to bide his time, with first team opportunities at Tynecastle blocked by Kello, Balogh and MacDonald. But he has grabbed the opportunity to impress while on loan to East Fife, and his three penalty saves at Pittodrie took the Second Division side into the League Cup quarter-finals.

Ryan Jack

Now a regular with his hometown club Aberdeen, having flourished at Pittodrie under Craig Brown in the right-back berth, although he is equally comfortable in midfield. It was Jack’s run and pass which set up Wotherspoon for Scotland’s winner in the Netherlands.

Danny Wilson

Youngest player to turn out in the Champions League for a Scottish team. Big things expected of versatile defender following his move to Rangers to Liverpool last year, but has only played a couple of games for current club. Now a regular in senior squad under Craig Levein and already has five senior caps.

Ross Perry

Rangers youngster had loan spells at Oxford United and Falkirk before returning to Ibrox and making his SPL debut this season. Graduated from Scotland Under-19s and has now racked up 11 Under-21 appearances.

Paul Hanlon

Fixture in the centre of Hibs defence for nearly three years and has played 80 first-team games. Vast experience at Under-21 level, with 17 matches and two goals, and been made team captain by Stark.

James Forrest

Winger with eye for goal has made massive impact at Celtic since making debut last year, and looks an early contender for Young Player of the Year. Linked recently with Tottenham and has four full Scotland caps.

Liam Kelly

Milton Keynes-born midfielder already has 60 Kilmarnock appearances to his name. Made Under-21 debut in March.

Thomas Cairney

Another midfielder born south of the Border, in Nottingham, he has featured in almost 50 games for Hull City, including outings in the Barclays Premier League prior to relegation.

David Wotherspoon

Since leaving Celtic’s youth set-up to join Hibs, Tuesday’s Perth-born match-winner has played almost 80 times for the Easter Road club. Can play at wing-back or in midfield.

Gregg Wylde

Pacy left-sided Rangers winger made his Rangers debut in 2009 and has gone from strength to strength this season under Ally McCoist, scoring his first senior goal in a 3-0 win over Motherwell and signing a contract which ties him to Ibrox until 2016.

Jordan Rhodes

Son of former Dunfermline goalkeeper Andy Rhodes has been in fantastic goalscoring form for Huddersfield and he has translated that to the international stage. His second-minute header against the Dutch made it six goals in as many Under-21 appearances, and only days earlier he won his first full cap in the friendly away to Cyprus.

Peter Pawlett

Talented Hull-born midfielder has played more than 40 times for Aberdeen.

Liam Palmer

Has appeared 19 times for Sheffield Wednesday, the Worksop-born midfielder has now played at Under-19 and Under-21 level for Scotland.

Leigh Griffiths

Scotland B forward on loan at Hibs from Wolves. Has plenty first-team experience from spells at Livingston and Dundee.