Portugal threat had no part in Jai Quitongo selection

Scot Gemmill last night insisted he has called up Morton hitman Jai Quitongo on merit and not parental pressure after his father, Jose, warned he could be pinched by Portugal unless Scotland under-21s moved for him soon.

Jai Quitongo: Opportunity. Picture: SNS

The forward has been linked with moves to Crystal Palace, West Ham United and Southampton this season after impressing for the Greenock side. His dad Jose – the former Hearts and Hamilton Accies player – commented last month that he was puzzled why his son hadn’t been called up for the 21s, while pointing out that he could switch his international allegiances to Portugal, for whom he is also eligible and who were interested in including him.

Quitongo was named in Gemmill’s young squad yesterday along with a recall for John Souttar of Hearts and another first call-up for Eamonn 
Brophy, the Hamilton Accies striker. Gemmill is very much taking a long-term view with his squads and is fully aware this latest test next week might not end well against a talented Slovakian side who have qualified for Euro 2017. But he stressed that Quitongo’s call-up wasn’t based on parental pressure.

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He said: “That article was brought to my attention, but he’s a player we have been watching. In reality, he’s playing in the same team as Aiden Nesbitt and I’ve been going to watch them.

“We know all the players in Scotland and Jai has found himself with an opportunity to show how good he is. It’s the same for all the players. This is an opportunity to go and show their level. It’s a reminder to everyone that there are no closed doors and that we are willing to give people a chance.

“We are trying to be pro-active and leave no stone unturned. We’ve a big obligation to find players and when doing well for their clubs we are willing to give them a chance. It’s down to the player to take that opportunity.

“He did well against Aberdeen in the semi final. He was playing a step up and he handled it very well. It’s all counted towards him being given this opportunity. In terms of potential, nobody quite knows how good he is going to be. But right now he is showing how dangerous he is.”