Barrie McKay: Scotland recall should be the aim as Hearts star will get 'bums off seats'

The Qatar 2022 World Cup. That's the aim for Steve Clarke and his Scotland players.

Barrie McKay made his Hearts debut i the Edinburgh derby Hibs. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Winning in Austria gave those hopes of back-to-back tournament qualifications a shot in the arm with Scotland in the driving seat to at least earn a play-off spot.

The victory should also have acted as a shot in the arm to all those players on the fringes or simply out of the national team fold.

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One excellent season, maybe even one period, is all that it could take to put yourself back in contention.

For Hearts assistant coach Lee McCulloch, that should be the aim for Barrie McKay, who arrived at Tynecastle Park earlier this month.

The 26-year-old currently sits on one cap, earned in a friendly with France five years ago.

Despite an excellent season with Rangers in 2016/17 and a move to England he has yet to build on that.

“He’s wanting to get better and we’re trying our utmost to get him as fit as possible,” McCulloch said.

“I really don’t see why he can’t get back in the Scotland squad.

“His ambition and his hunger should be to be at the next World Cup with Scotland.

“That’s the things we speak to the players about: ‘What’s your ambition, where do you want to be in six months or a year’s time?’

“I think Barrie should be pushing for a Scotland place if they go on and do their stuff.”

Always been a stand-out

Hearts have high hopes for the winger. Both manager Robbie Neilson and sporting director Joe Savage spoke about McKay in glowing terms.

Yet, it may be McCulloch who knows him better than most.

The pair were team-mates at Ibrox with the now Tynecastle assistant witnessing his breakthrough into the Rangers first-team.

McCulloch is aware that the player has the qualities Hearts fans want to see in a winger, someone keen to get on the ball, turn and drive at defences.

With his unique running style, McKay will dribble, he’ll take players on, he’ll cross and he’ll look to deliver a killer pass.

“He was always a stand-out, when you look at how he could handle the ball on the half turn, the way he can set up chances and score goals,” McCulloch said.

"He’s got blistering pace.

“He was one who always caught your eye. At times, for large spells in his career, as soon as he has got the ball he’s got bums off seats. I think that’s what the Hearts fans have been crying out for.

“It’s good to have him but it wouldn’t be fair to judge him just now because he’s not fully fit.”

Laid back

Hearts are McKay’s seventh club of his career and his first in Scotland since leaving Rangers four years ago.

He has spoken about his maturity and it is something McCulloch sees in him.

“I think so,” he said. “You find that in a lot of younger players when you meet them when they’re older.

“But, to be fair to Barrie, he’s always been pretty laid back, he’s always listened to the experienced ones and the managers and the coaches.

“To be honest, he’s not much different from that.”

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