Scotland coach’s priority is to keep tabs on John McGinn

The football career of Steven Reid was a struggle against a body that so often seemed to want to let him down. The mind of the Scotland assistant never did, though – in 2013 he played an hour for Steve Clarke’s West Bromich Albion against Arsenal with a broken leg. And the 38-year-old is determined that the humanity he craved in difficult times will be afforded the players he is working with now.
Aston Villa's John McGinn suffered an ankle fracture. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFPAston Villa's John McGinn suffered an ankle fracture. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP
Aston Villa's John McGinn suffered an ankle fracture. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP

A broken ankle in Christmas week for John McGinn is threatening the Aston Villa attacker’s participation in the Euro 2020 semi-final at home to Israel on 26 March. Reid, inset, has kept regular communication with a man who has become a goalscoring talisman for his country because he will never treat any injury casualties as disposable – which happens with some management teams.

Reid knows that bitterly after the Republic of Ireland defender was written off as essentially past it at 28 by the country’s then manager Giovanni Trapattoni when dealing with a variety of long-term issues at Blackburn.

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“You’re not just injured and forgotten about,” said Reid of how Scotland players are treated in the Clarke era. “It’s important for people on the fringes or injured that we are touching base with them. I’ve messaged John McGinn quite a lot and at some stage I will get up to the Midlands to check on his rehab.

“With having had quite a few injuries myself, it touches a nerve with me a little bit when I see lads getting injured, so it’s about making sure that the contact is there and making sure the rehab is going well. Fingers crossed. I’m not sure how long it is going to be but it would be brilliant if it was a speedy one, who knows?

“Even if he wasn’t going to be involved, even if it took a bit longer, I think that if you still touch base, if you are still showing that you care about him, then that can go a long way to creating a good spirit and good environment in the squad.”

Trapattoni so failed on that front in 2009 – Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce called his claim that it would be “very, very difficult” for Reid to play again at the highest level “disgusting” and demanded an apology.

“I had a big operation on my cartilage,” said the former Republic defender, whose career highlight was playing at the 2002 World Cup. “I was out for 11 months and whether it’s a language barrier or not, he still came out to question if I would get back to playing top-level football again.

“I heard about it through the club. And I had no contact from anyone in the set-up at that time. His English wasn’t great but you’d like to think there was staff on the media teams or whatever briefing managers and coaches on injuries and circumstances – or it might have been a start to actually ask me how I was doing.

“When you have those sort of injuries you kind of get to know how you want to be treated when you are injured.

“Some managers don’t go in the physio room, don’t really want injured players around, thinking it affects the spirit maybe or mood in the camp.”