Alex McLeish has stressed he has no fears over Scott McTominay’s commitment to the Scotland cause after the Manchester United midfielder did not travel to Budapest for tonight’s friendly with Hungary.
McTominay is suffering with a calf complaint that flared up on Sunday morning after he played 57 minutes of Friday’s 1-0 defeat by Costa Rica. He has joined the injured Grant Hanley and Matt Ritchie in returning to his club as McLeish’s troubles increased following the disappointing opening match of his second spell in charge.
But McLeish is confident McTominay is not having second thoughts after the player’s much publicised decision to opt for Scotland over England. He remains eligible for Gareth Southgate’s team and won’t be locked into Scotland until he appears in a competitive fixture.
The first available opportunity to tie the 21-year-old down is not until a Nations League qualifier against Albania at Hampden Park in September. McLeish is certain it is not an issue having already spoken of seeing the desire to represent Scotland in the player’s eyes.
“The boy I spoke to is committed,” stressed McLeish last night. “The guy I left last night is raring to be a part of it.
“He wants to improve as a player. He is a very receptive boy. He likes to be told what he can improve on. We showed him some video stuff and we will send some stuff down to him [at Manchester United] just to improve his overall awareness. He was delighted with that.
“He was gutted he was missing the next game, he said it was disappointing,” added McLeish.
“He was OK on Saturday and then he woke up on Sunday and felt a twinge as he went into the shower. He spoke to the doctor and the doctor said he was not going to make it.
“I had a ten-minute chat with him. He loved the experience [of his first cap]. He was itching to be involved in the second game. He wants to give everything he can to Scotland.”
McLeish is desperate to avoid becoming the first Scotland manager since Berti Vogts to lose his first two games in charge.
It doesn’t get much easier for McLeish after tonight with friendlies to come against Peru, Mexico and Belgium before the competitive fixtures begin against Albania in September.
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor is expected to make only his second start. McLeish was still mulling over what part, if any, Charlie Mulgrew, who skippered the side on Friday, will play. The defender has a crucial game with his club Blackburn Rovers against Bradford on Thursday night.
Ranked 50th in the world, 19 places below Scotland, Hungary should certainly be considered beatable as McLeish seeks to ease fears over the direction in which his team are going.
“I guess if we don’t get the right result then I’m a bigger dud than I was on Friday,” he said.
“I’m going to have to have rhinoceros skin but I’m pleased with the players and the way they’ve adjusted. The second half was better on Friday and they were happy with what we showed them on Sunday.
“Now it is about taking it to the next stage.”