Greg Taylor convinced Scots can improve on 2017 Toulon finish

Scotland under-21 left-back Greg Taylor. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
Scotland under-21 left-back Greg Taylor. Picture: Ross MacDonald/SNS
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Greg Taylor netted the winner against Brazil last year and captained Scotland Under-21s for part of this week’s brilliant win against hosts France in the Toulon Tournament – their first over the French at any level for 11 years.

The Kilmarnock full-back is convinced Scot Gemmill’s kids can go even further than last year’s third-place finish.

A fine strike by West Brom’s Oliver Burke secured an impressive victory against the hosts and a win in tomorrow’s final group match against South Korea – who have lost their opening two games – would almost certainly be enough to win the group and go into the semi-finals for the second year in a row.

Taylor, pictured, was a member of a well-drilled defence who had to withstand intense second-half pressure by the French, but Rangers keeper Robby McCrorie only had to make one save for the entire game, so well was he 
protected.

It was the perfect response to their opening-day disappointing draw against Togo and mirrors last year’s tournament when Scotland bounced back to beat Brazil after an earlier loss to Czech Republic.

Taylor, who has happy memories of James McFadden’s wonder goal in the Parc des Princes in 2007, admits there are similarities between the two campaigns.

He said: “The win puts us right within a chance of qualification. I’m not sure beating France was as good as beating Brazil because I scored in that one! No, it was just as good. I thought the boys dug in. We probably had slightly less of the ball in the second half than we did against Brazil.

“But we all worked hard, did our job, listened to Scot, kept it narrow and I think it’s just as satisfying to be fair.

“We started off disappointed last year then we beat Brazil. I think it probably suits us, the counter-attacking game and it’s maybe a wee bit harder if we have to go and dominate the game. Against Togo we did create the chances, we just didn’t get the ball over the line.

“Of course we can win on Saturday and go a long way. It’s in our own hands, 100 per cent. We know what we’ve got to do now. We’ve just got to put on a performance and see where it takes us.

“We found out it was our first win over France since Faddy’s goal and that’s not bad. It’s obviously not on a level with that, but it is some achievement. The boys are all buzzing and looking forward to 
South Korea.

“I was in the local pub in my home town, Gourock, that night McFadden scored. I must have been quite young. I wasn’t obviously drinking. I was watching it and I think everyone was in shock. Four or five of us were there and my dad was there as well. The whole place went wild when the goal went in. I don’t think everyone could believe it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Taylor is like a grizzled veteran at 20 in this team, with Gemmill blooding 16-year-old Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour and Hearts defender Chris Hamilton, who is the same age and came on as a sub.

The Rugby Park left-back even took over the armband when captain Burke was subbed off, and he was delighted by the accolade. He said: “That’s been a massive honour for me. It’s something you dream about as a kid. Whether that’s at Under-21 level or any level. I was delighted to get it after big Oli came off.

“It’s certainly been different from Kilmarnock with all the old guard there! But they’ve all been brilliant. You saw wee Billy Gilmour. He was tremendous. He was everywhere. Then Chrissy came on. I think he’s played right-back in training. He’s naturally a centre-half but came on at right midfield. It’s testament to these boys coming on and doing jobs and being willing to work for the team. That’s the attitude we’ve got with anyone.

“I think the boys are sick of listening to me… I’m a shouter, I can’t help it. I’m a moaner and they’re probably sick of me. But it’s just because I want to win. I think people realise that. Ryan Porteous next to me is the exact same. If it’s what we need to do to win then 
we’ll do it.”