In time, the national team boss won't need to get so creative. It appears there is one emerging and blossoming. A player from Girvan who attended the SFA’s performance school at Grange Academy. One of the most promising young forwards in Europe in fact. Girvan-born Rory Wilson.
The 17-year-old, having struck 49 goals for Rangers in Scotland’s youth ranks last season, has taken that form to Aston Villa where he has caught the attention with his goal-scoring exploits. His goal, as captain, against France on Wednesday in the Under-17 European Championships opener took him to 32 in competitive games this campaign. That includes an FA Youth Cup hat-trick against Brentford. One fan website certainly bought into the justified hype, describing the teenager as Villa’s “biggest talent since [Jack] Grealish”.
The striker is one of Brian McLaughlin's squad who appeared at the tournament 12 months ago. The manager noted the team are still behind other nations regarding the “physical development” but spoke of the “technical and tactical” development. Wilson believes the move to Villa from Rangers has been hugely beneficial for his own progression.
“I think I've become more powerful, stronger, quicker,” he said ahead of Scotland’s fixture against Portugal on Saturday. “I think everything is a step up, no disrespect to the Scottish game which was brilliant for me but I think it is faster and more technical and even more tactical at times when we play against top opposition every week. The facilities down here are different class. Physically, they’re starting from an earlier age. You go down there and you’re up against quicker, more physical players.”
‘Step by step’
Wilson, who pinpoints Erling Haaland, Karim Benzema and Harry Kane as forwards he studies, is focused on building his body to be ready for first-team football having already added “five or six kg" in muscle. While he doesn't expect a loan move next season, he is hopeful of pushing towards making the step to train with Unai Emery’s first-team. The striker had enjoyed a good relationship with Steven Gerrard who was replaced by the Spaniard.
“I think it’s important for me to get a good physique so I’m ready to play first-team football,” he said. “It’s about being patient and doing the right things at the right time. Doing my gym work and taking the advice of the sports scientists. You don’t want to put on too much too soon.
"The manager changed and he's done very well so I've not had the chance. Hopefully in the next season I do my best and get there at one point. You see the standard. He's got internationals in every position so to try and break through is going to be hard but you have to back yourself.
“I think it is important to go on loan at one point soon but I think next season is too soon, personally. I'm just trying to keep playing, develop and then I need to build a body physically to be ready to deal with first-team football.”