John McGinn will have the chance to stake his claim for the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign after Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee effectively confirmed his selection for friendlies next month.
Although skipper of the under-21s, who face a must-win qualifier in France on 24 March, the Hibs midfielder will be picked for the friendly in the Czech Republic on 23 March and against Denmark at Hampden on 29 May. McGinn will be one of a number of new call-ups as Gordon Strachan experiments.
McGhee said: “John has really impressed me and I know he’s especially impressed Gordon. He’s one – and one of several – of these boys who have been on the fringes and talked about at times who could or will get an opportunity.
“I don’t think the under-21 game will affect things because we will prioritise. Gordon will make decisions about who should be with us. Then the 21s will look after themselves.
“It’s common knowledge we’re going to have two squads [for the two friendlies] and therefore we will need more players.
“You can rest assured there will be some new faces between the two squads, if not in both squads.”
McGhee insists the preparation for the 2018 World Cup qualification programme has to start now and has defended the decision to face Italy and France. The Scots face the Italians in Malta on 29 May then take on France in Metz on 4 June.
McGhee feels matches of this calibre can benefit Scotland in the way friendlies away to Chile and Uruguay prepared Northern Ireland for their gloriously successful European Championship qualifying campaign having spoken to their assistant, Steve Robinson who works with manager Michael O’Neill.
McGhee said: “They played Chile and Uruguay which were two fixtures we were offered prior to the 2014 World Cup. They had two really good performances. Steve said it was the foundation for their away games in the Euros.”