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