So, the inevitability of Scotland not qualifying for the World Cup next year was confirmed on Sunday.
Now the country has to consider what is going to change in order to make the next major tournament – which will hopefully be the European Championships in 2020.
Gordon Strachan’s future as manager will come under scrutiny after two failed campaigns.
But that matter probably won’t be fixed out any time soon – and instead talk should surround the players who could be involved in a major tournament qualification.
Here, we look at five young players who we believe will be good enough to lead Scotland to a major tournament:
Lewis Morgan – St Mirren
— talkingbaws (@talkingbaws) September 25, 2017
For anyone who’s managed to see Morgan in action regularly, there’s no doubt he’s a talent. But just how good could he become? He’s 21 and has played 89 times now for St Mirren, with the majority of his appearances coming in the Championship. So a move to a higher level would make sense – and could perhaps be the catalyst for making the Scotland national team. He’s one of the Under 21s most important players and represents one of very few out-and-out playmakers in Scotland’s youth ranks. If a move to Celtic or any English club materialises over the next year, expect Morgan to be thrust into contention for a senior team call-up.
Billy Gilmour – Chelsea
Scotland fans have heard a lot about Gilmour since his emergence at Rangers last season at 15. Now 16, Gilmour has made the move to English Premier League champions Chelsea and has took to it like a duck to water in the early stages. If he manages to do what many haven’t done before him and break through to the first team at Stamford Bridge then we should expect to see him in the senior team straight away. A ball-playing centre midfielder is something Scotland have badly missed over recent years.
Scott McKenna – Aberdeen
At 20, McKenna doesn’t have a lot of first team experience for his age, but his recent emergence for Aberdeen and the Scotland Under 21s suggests his time is now. Centre back has been another problem position for the national team and he looks like having the best chance of any young player to make the breakthrough and become the country’s leading centre back. Here’s hoping Derek McInnes continues to use him at Aberdeen and the national team manager rewards him for all the game time.
Karamoko Dembele – Celtic
Dembele is arguably the most hyped Scottish youngster of all-time after his emergence last year. Celtic played him in an Under 20s development team game at the age of just 13 and, now 14, he’s kicked on to become a youth international on a regular basis as well as being enrolled in the SFA’s Performance School programme. Provided Celtic manage to keep him, you’d expect Dembele to be making a dent on the first team in two years and what’s to say he won’t burst on to the scene and get a Scotland call-up too? It’s happened with youngsters like Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney with England. Maybe Dembele will be the wonderkid Scotland has been waiting for.
Oliver Burke – West Brom
Burke actually started the World Cup qualifying campaign in Strachan’s starting XI, but fell away after failing to play regularly for RB Leipzig after his £15million move to Germany last season. There’s no doubting his talent and a return to England, with West Brom, for the 20-year-old should help Scotland if he manages to get regular games. Burke has shown with the Under 21s that he’s got a lot of quality and the sooner that’s shown with the top team the better.