Stuart McCall has been encouraged in his hopes that a new star is set to emerge for Scotland in time for the World Cup qualifiers.
Manager Gordon Strachan has already stated that unearthing players who can provide something a little bit different is the object of the exercise in those friendlies prior to embarking on the road to Russia, against Malta in September. Assistant coach McCall has noted the ease with which new recruits such as Celtic’s Kieran Tierney and Nottingham Forest’s Kirkcaldy-born Oliver Burke have adapted to their new surroundings ahead of tomorrow night’s home friendly with Denmark.
He contrasted their self-confidence with his own meek demeanour on becoming a Scotland player relatively late in his career, having been rescued from England’s clutches.
“When I was first called up I was 26. I was just happy to be there, to take a throw-in now and again,” he recalled. “I can remember Gary McAllister came in at the same time as me. Craig Brown said: ‘Can anyone take free-kicks?’ Gary Mac pushed Gordon [Strachan] out the way and said: ‘I’ll do it! I’ll do it!’ I was a bit shy. I was just happy to take a throw-in!”
Tierney, however, has shown enough – but not too much – confidence to catch the eye.
“I could tell he was the son of Broony,” he smiled, with reference to Scott Brown, who is known for wearing short-sleeved tops whatever the weather. “He had his shirt sleeves rolled up while everyone else was freezing. He is definitely styling his clothing on his captain.”
McCall himself joined in with some training drills on Saturday at Hampden and almost lived to regret it. “A pass got left short and I thought he was going to top me because he [Tierney] came steaming in. He likes a tackle. He’s not over-confident and arrogant, not at all, but he has belief, he wants the ball and he has been telling Grant Hanley to give him the ball. That is good.”
Burke, the 18 year-old Forest midfielder, has also already made a mark: “He got the ball, knocked it by somebody and left them for dead. We ain’t got that. We have got pace, but not pace and power.”
l Stuart McCall was speaking to promote the 2016 Scottish Football Supporters Survey, a partnership between Supporters Direct Scotland, the SFA and the SPFL. The survey is open at www.scottishfans.org