It’s been a positive week for Scottish football – with both the senior squad and the Under 21s getting positive results.
It all kicked off last Thursday with Scot Gemmill’s 21s beating Andorra 3-0 as they continue their pursuit of a place at next year’s European Championships.
The only disappointment of the week came a day later when Alex McLeish’s men lost 4-0 to Belgium in a friendly at Hampden.
But they made up for that by beating Albania 2-0 on Monday night in their Nations League opener.
And the 21s put an exclamation mark on the week when they beat Holland 2-1 last night away from home.
There’s plenty to be excited about – but the youth coming through for Scotland is particularly exciting.
So here are five youngsters we can get see making the senior breakthrough before the year is out:
Hornby got five goals in two games for the 21s this week, putting Albania to the sword with a hat-trick before scoring both goals in the win against Holland. As of yet, Hornby has played just one first team game for Everton, but you’d expect that to change at some point given his quality form for Scotland. Actually, we could see him leaving the Premier League side for a loan in the Championship and that could give him the same sort of opportunity for games that Oli McBurnie benefitted from while on loan from Swansea to Barnsley last season.
You’ll have heard plenty about Gilmour so far and you can’t deny the 17-year-old midfielder is on a meteoric rise to the top. If he stays away from injuries, you’d expect the youngster to make some sort of dent on the Chelsea team in the near future or get an opportunity to play first team games away from Stamford Bridge. He certainly looks ready for that level. As soon as he starts getting those, it shouldn’t be long before McLeish calls him up to the senior team.
Scott McKenna and John Souttar have both been Under 21 teammates for Porteous and he’ll fancy his chances of following both in making the step up to the top team. The Hibs defender has started the season getting regular games under Neil Lennon and that should continue after a strong international break. Scotland need central defenders and more matches for Hibs should lead to attention from McLeish.
Middleton has wasted no time making his impact at Rangers, joining the Scottish Premiership side as a youth in January before earning a permanent place in Steven Gerrard’s first team squad at the start of this season. In the games he’s played for Rangers so far, he’s looked very dangerous – showing everyone the kind of form that’s made him a permanent fixture in Scotland youth teams over recent years. With the season-ending injury to Jamie Murphy, Middleton is in a good place to get more games out on the left wing for Rangers and, if he can take advantage of the chances he gets, that should lead to a Scotland call-up sooner or later.
At 22, Harper might be a little too old for this list, but he’s worth including due to the intriguing position he currently finds himself in. After leaving Real Madrid for Brighton and then failing to make the breakthrough there, many could have been forgiven for thinking the Spanish-born attacker didn’t deserve the hype as a youngster. But he’s now playing for La Liga 2 side Malaga, proving to be an integral part of their team in an unbeaten start to the season. If Harper can continue that then he must surely be on McLeish’s radar? After all, there were English League One players in the most recent Scotland squad so a star from Spain’s second tier can’t go unnoticed by the national team manager.