If the Celtic lads can master­mind a vic­tory over RB Leipzig, then they can beat Al­ba­nia

Evening Times - - SPORT -

had just gazed directly into one of those lamps hang­ing off the main stand that put the bat sig­nal to shame.

His thump­ing open­ing goal for Celtic was a fan­tas­tic show­case of the foot­balling abil­ity of the Scots in this side. Mc­Gre­gor’s quick-think­ing sent For­rest away, and the winger – who had the two left­sided Leipzig de­fend­ers on toast all night – jinked past his man and laid the ball across the area. Tier­ney picked it up at the back post and smashed it home. It was en­thralling stuff, and it was cre­ated and ex­e­cuted by home­grown tal­ent.

The old­est of the four play­ers I have men­tioned here is the baby-faced For­rest, who de­spite look­ing about 15, is rather un­be­liev­ably now 27. The best years of these play­ers lie ahead of them, an en­tic­ing prospect for both club and coun­try.

And I can only hope that Scot­land man­ager Alex


McLeish was watch­ing the match on Thurs­day evening, and that what he wit­nessed fig­ures heav­ily in his think­ing when he comes to jot­ting down the names on his teamsheet for the match against Al­ba­nia a week to­day.

His pre­de­ces­sor, Gor­don Stra­chan, hit upon a win­ning for­mula when he put a core of Celtic play­ers into his Scot­land team, and it would make sense to re­peat the trick once more.

For me, an in­ter­na­tional foot­ball team should be mainly made up of play­ers who are in form. Man­agers have pre­cious lit­tle time to work with play­ers, let alone man-man­age them or give those who are out of form a cud­dle, so it makes sense to take the boys who are feel­ing 10-feet tall and let them loose in a dark-blue jersey.

All four of these Celtic play­ers sim­ply have to make the start­ing line-up next week. If they can master­mind a vic­tory over RB Leipzig, then they can beat Al­ba­nia.

McLeish of course has to find a way to get the best out of Tier­ney, Andy Robert­son and Ryan Fraser – one of the English Premier League’s best play­ers on cur­rent form - up the left, but it’s a de­cent prob­lem to have. When you con­sider how well all of those play­ers are per­form­ing at present, and at a re­ally high level, then surely they all have to be handed a jersey.

With such tal­ent at the coun­try’s dis­posal, it is a real shame that the prospect of in­ter­na­tional week is one that is be­ing met with an air of ap­a­thy. If Alex McLeish wants to ig­nite the in­ter­est in the na­tional team once again, he has to un­leash the play­ers that can ex­cite the crowds. And, as they have shown cru­cially this past week, the play­ers who have the drive to suc­ceed.

These aren’t just tal­ented foot­ballers, but play­ers who, like the rest of the coun­try, have had enough of the Scot­tish hard luck sto­ries.

McLeish trust in them. They might just save our qual­i­fi­ca­tion hopes, and his job.

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