The one Scotland player most worthy of your attention in 2019

Caroline Weir in action for Scotland against England at the World Cup in France. Picture: SNS
Caroline Weir in action for Scotland against England at the World Cup in France. Picture: SNS
Share this article
0
Have your say

Let's begin this article with the men's national team before quickly discarding them.

READ MORE - How the Scotland players rated during the 2019 Women's World Cup
That's probably who you thought this would be about: a member of Stevie Clarke's squad who many would assume to be unperforming but in actual fact is playing at a decent standard. Well that article doesn't exist because none of them are worth my time or yours, at least not with regards to their performances in a dark blue shirt. The men's Scotland national team has been an embarrassment for the majority of my lifetime and 2019 may just be its nadir.

The Scotland women's team, on the other hand, are really quite good. They qualified for the Euros in 2017 before making it to the World Cup in France earlier this year, where they would've reached the latter stages were it not for a spectacular collapse, even by Scottish standards, in the final minutes of their 3-3 draw with Argentina.

I'm not going to labour the point on why you should be watching our girls in action. Basically, to this writer, if you truly love football then it shouldn't matter if it's the highest standard available. If you're the type who will happily ignore the Champions League and English top flight in favour of what's happening much closer to home, then you should extend the same courtesy to Shelley Kerr's side. If you're football absolutely must be the best of the best for you to enjoy it, then that's fair enough. You have my sympathies.

There's a lot to like about the team as they try to make their third consecutive major tournament in a row by reaching next year's Euros in England. Erin Cuthbert is the team's rising star in attack. She plays in front of Kim Little who has been the fulcrum in midfield for the past decade. Claire Emslie is a direct and exciting winger, Leanne Crichton the enforcer in front of the back four, Rachel Corsie is captain and an assuring presence in defence, while Lee Alexander bucks the stereotypes about female goalkeepers and reliability.

But the one player who stands out every time I see the national team is centre midfielder Caroline Weir.

The 24-year-old came through the ranks at Hibs and now faces off against international teammates Cuthbert (Chelsea) and Little (Arsenal) as part of Manchester City's squad at the top of the Women's Super League in England.

Without hyperbole I can say Weir is one of the most composed Scottish midfielders you are ever likely to see, male or female. Nothing seems to faze her. She's always looking to turn with the ball and play it forward from her role as the deep-lying playmaker. Even when the pressure is there she has the quickness of feet to dribble her way out of trouble. Technical proficiency is a more valued commodity in the women's game and Weir has it in spades.

Defensively she's aided by her stature as she's routinely one of the taller midfielders in the boiler room battle. She also has good awareness, which helps her both disrupt opponents and pick the right pass to release the pressure on her team-mates. In the recent match against Albania, Weir and midfield partner Crichton absolutely dominated the hosts in the first half. Every time the ball went forward one of them was on hand to intercept before it even reached the Albanian front-line. Then, more often than not, they would put it forward into an area that immediately asked questions of the defence.

She's not just a sitting, safe, sideways passing midfielder. Weir can gallop forward and influence play in the final third; executing through balls and have the occasional crack at goal. Her finish in the 8-0 win over Cyprus at Easter Road earlier this campaign was arguably the pick of the bunch as the squad rebounded from the summer disappointment in style.

As she didn't get on the scoresheet she may not have heightened her profile among casual supporters at the World Cup in the same way Cuthbert or Little may have, but in my eyes she was the only Scottish player to excel in all three group games.

With Weir in the centre, Cuthbert in attack and Emslie (25) on the wing, Scotland will have a very good attack for years to come. Just make sure you don't miss out.