When opportunity knocks, make sure you answer the door. This old aphorism was borne out by Steven Reid’s decision to turn his car round when en route to Barbados for a family holiday to answer an SOS from Mick McCarthy in 2002.
The Republic of Ireland manager’s World Cup plans had been rocked by an injury to Mark Kennedy. There would be further troubles to come courtesy of Roy Keane prior to the finals in Japan and South Korea but Reid’s willingness to cancel his summer plans solved one particular problem.
Now Reid has urged those Scotland players being handed chances in similar circumstances to make sure they take advantage of the plight of others.
The then Millwall midfielder went from a World Cup stand-by to playing in the first group game against Cameroon when only 21 years old.
Scotland could be set to hand Leeds United defender Liam Cooper his first cap in central defence against Russia on Friday after multiple call-offs.
Cooper was in the original squad due to injuries to John Souttar, Scott McKenna and Stuart Findlay. Grant Hanley has also since withdrawn with David Bates and Mikey Devlin called up for the Euro 2020 qualifying doubleheader, Belgium visiting Hampden on Monday.
“Yes, we have a few guys missing,” said Reid. “It is not ideal when you have members who would have been in the original squad and they have to pull out for various reasons. At the same time, it is an opportunity for those who do come in.
“For myself, I went to the World Cup and I was not even in the original squad. Injury meant I went and I was the first substitute to come on in the first game v Cameroon.
“An injury means there is an opportunity for someone to come in and take their chance, and that’s the case at club level too.”
Reid believes Scotland can cope with so many withdrawals in one specific area. Celtic showed it is possible to meld a new defence in a high-profile fixture, with three of their four defenders in their victory over Rangers on Sunday making Old Firm debuts. All are recent signings.
“It’s our job as a staff to get them organised pretty quickly,” said Reid. “We do not have a massive amount of sessions to do that because the lads who played yesterday have recovery days.
“It is about cramming as much information and detail and videos and work on the training pitch into those few days to get them as prepared as possible for these two games.”
Reid, who scored against Russia in a friendly at Lansdowne Road in 2002, is aware of the high stakes as Scotland prepare for a tough run of Group I fixtures: Russia, Belgium and then Russia again.
“It is a big game (v Russia),” he said. “I don’t think we are getting to must-win scenarios but there’s no doubt about it, over the next three games we need to pick points up.
“Who knows what points total will be enough for qualification but over the next three games we need to get some.”