Scotland and Euro 2020: Rangers' Nathan Patterson, Chelsea's Billy Gilmour and Celtic's David Turnbull shouldn't just be going along for the ride

For Nathan Patterson, Billy Gilmour and David Turnbull, securing a place in the Scotland squad for Euro 2020 is an achievement in itself.

But such is the talent, drive and determination of all three players, just being part of Steve Clarke’s 26-man party won’t and shouldn’t be the limit of their ambitions this summer.

Rangers right-back Patterson, Chelsea midfielder Gilmour and Celtic playmaker Turnbull are all capable of making their presence felt in the heat of the action when Scotland go into Group D combat at Hampden and Wembley next month against Czech Republic, England and Croatia.

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Patterson, who won’t celebrate his 20th birthday until October, is the youngest member of Clarke’s squad but his call-up is richly deserved on the basis of the form he displayed in the latter stages of the season for Rangers.

Rangers right-back Nathan Patterson pictured during his fourth and most recent appearance for Scotland under-21s against Croatia at Tynecastle last November. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Lavish praise from Gerrard

The challenge of replacing injured captain James Tavernier, arguably the Premiership champions’ most influential and important player, could have been a daunting one but it left Patterson completely unfazed.

He produced a string of dynamic, high calibre displays which left Rangers manager Steven Gerrard purring. When asked whether Patterson should be a contender for Steve Clarke’s plans this summer, Gerrard responded by saying he hadn’t seen a better Scottish right-back anywhere.

It was rich praise for the teenager which is not difficult to endorse. He has forced his way into the Scotland squad at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Palmer, who has been a steady performer whenever called upon at right-back.

Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour in action for Scotland's under-21 side against Greece at Tynecastle last November. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

But while sympathy can be extended to Palmer, even the short body of work Patterson has produced so far at Rangers suggests he is a truly elite-level right-back in the making.

Indeed, while Motherwell’s Stephen O’Donnell is the man currently in possession of the right-back role for Scotland, there is a powerful case to be made for Patterson being promoted directly into Clarke’s starting line-up.

If he gets the opportunity to show what he can do in either or both of the pre-tournament friendly matches against Netherlands and Luxembourg on June 2 and 6 respectively, Patterson could at the very least give Clarke serious food for thought ahead of the Group D opener against the Czechs on June 14.

Opportunity knocks for Gilmour

Celtic midfielder David Turnbull during a training session with Scotland under-21s at Oriam in Edinburgh last November. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

While Patterson has been chosen by Clarke ahead of a far more experienced player in Palmer, the selections of Gilmour and Turnbull were forced upon the manager to a degree by the unfortunate unavailability of injured midfield duo Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean who were both certainties to be in the squad had they been fit.

Jack and McLean both occupy deeper-lying roles for their club teams, the former as the hub in Rangers’ 4-3-3 system and the latter in a holding position in Norwich City’s preferred 4-2-3-1 set-up.

Depending on the formation Clarke opts for in the Euros, there could be an opportunity for Gilmour to stake a claim for one of deeper midfield slots. The prodigious Chelsea talent, who will be 20 just three days before Scotland’s tournament opener, has excelled there for the Stamford Bridge club when called upon this season.

Gilmour has made just eight starts for Chelsea in the current campaign but anyone who watched his composed and technically outstanding display in their 2-1 win at Manchester City earlier this month could have little doubt about his capacity to transfer that level of performance to the senior international stage.

Despite being without both Jack and McLean, Clarke does have other options for the deeper midfield positions with Celtic’s Callum McGregor and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay both able to operate there. But over the course of a tournament, especially if Scotland can progress beyond the group stage, Gilmour may well have the chance to showcase why he can become a regular starter for his country for many years to come.

Celtic’s shining light

For Turnbull, a more advanced midfield role is his natural environment and where he will be seeking to get the nod from Clarke. In Celtic’s shambolically disappointing season, Turnbull still managed to produce a series of impressive individual displays which marked him out as one of the foundation stones for the rebuilding job which will be undertaken by the Parkhead club this summer.

For critics of former Celtic manager Neil Lennon, it became a stick to beat him with that Turnbull, who will be 22 in July, did not nail down a starting place much earlier in the campaign.

When he did, he flourished with an admirable contribution of nine goals and eight assists for an otherwise malfunctioning team.

Aston Villa’s John McGinn, named Scotland’s International Player of the Year by the Scottish Football Writers’ Association this week, is a shoo-in for one of the more advanced roles in either a 3-4-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation which Clarke could deploy.

If Turnbull is to find a place in the starting line-up, he may have to eclipse fellow contenders such as Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong.

Over the course of the next few weeks, of course, injuries and in-tournament suspensions could also dictate just how much, if any, involvement there is in the Euro 2020 finals for Patterson, Gilmour and Turnbull.

But the only three uncapped players in Clarke’s squad are not just going along for the ride. While all of them seem destined to be a big part of future World Cup and European Championship campaigns for Scotland, the opportunity to make an impact in the here and now is one they can all seize.

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