Aaron Hickey backed over Scotland Under-21 stance - 'I didn't want to go til Jock Stein got involved'

Steve Archibald has backed Aaron Hickey’s Scotland Under-21 stance and revealed he once faced a similar dilemma.

Bologna star Aaron Hickey has opted out of playing for Scotland Under-21s. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Bologna star Aaron Hickey has opted out of playing for Scotland Under-21s. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

The former Spurs and Barcelona striker's initial reluctance to play for the Under-21s was only resolved when legendary manager Jock Stein got involved in the situation.

Hickey was once again a notable absentee when the squad was named by Scot Gemmill earlier this week for the forthcoming games against Turkey and Kazakhstan.

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The manager explained that he had checked with Hickey but “nothing had changed” with regards to the left-back, who asked to be left out of games against Kazakhstan and Belgium at the end of last year because he was tired.

The 19-year-old, who has played 25 times for Bologna this season, has not featured for the Under-21s at all.

The impression is building that he feels he deserves to be in the top squad on account of his experiences to date with Hearts and in Serie A.

Archibald’s sympathies lie with Hickey. He shares the opinion that he should have been given a chance in Steve Clarke’s squad by now.

“He’s an outstanding player and Under-21 matches will do absolutely nothing for him,” said Archibald. “If they haven’t seen him enough, go and watch again.

“It’s hard enough being surrounded by real quality players. The Under-21 games are like a jigsaw puzzle and when you have worked it out it’s finished. It would be a waste of time to be calling him up.

“I don’t know if they (the SFA) are trying to prove a point but the only thing that matters is if he is playing well.

“If we are struggling at right-back then play him there. He uses his right foot and he is confident with it, so play him there.

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“He’s doing the business in one of the top leagues in the world and you can’t ask for anything more than that,” he added.

“I remember in my time having two games for the under-21s and I didn’t want to go.

"I was playing and scoring goals every week (for Aberdeen) and now they wanted me to go to the under-21s?! But the manager was Jock Stein. He said he had full confidence in me, so I went and did it.”

Archibald ended up playing five times for the under-21s before graduating to gain 27 full caps in a competitive era for Scottish strikers.

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