McGinn de­ter­mined Scots will no longer be butt of jokes

Evening Times - - LAST WORD -

JOHN McGINN was so ap­palled at Scot­land be­ing the only home na­tion not rep­re­sented at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in France that he booked a hol­i­day in or­der to avoid watch­ing it on tele­vi­sion.

Now, three years down the line, he is so con­vinced the national team will make it that he has de­cided against book­ing up for next sum­mer.

The As­ton Villa mid­fielder con­firmed his emer­gence as the national team’s main goal threat un­der Steve Clarke when he added two more goals to his tally against Kaza­khstan last night.

That made it seven goals for the cam­paign, equal to the num­ber that Bel­gian hot-shot Romelu Lukaku has to his name in Group I.

While Scot­land’s Euro 2020 fate will be set­tled in the play-offs in March, once again it is look­ing as though there will be bumper rep­re­sen­ta­tion from teams from the UK.

Eng­land and Wales have qual­i­fied, while Northern Ire­land and the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land join Scot­land in the play-offs.

And McGinn is de­ter­mined that Scots should be the butt of the joke no longer.

“It was tough in 2016 and, to be hon­est, I didn’t watch much of the com­pe­ti­tion,” said McGinn. “I was on the pe­riph­ery of the squad at the time and know how close we got to qual­i­fy­ing only to fall short.

“So with ev­ery­one else there, it was so hard to watch.

“I went on hol­i­day, I was out of the coun­try and spent my time chill­ing out in­stead of watch­ing it. But I haven’t booked a hol­i­day for next sum­mer be­cause I be­lieve we’ll get there.

“For a long time it has been Scot­land sit­ting on the side­lines when other teams are play­ing in ma­jor cham­pi­onships.

“There won’t be an­other coun­try in the Home Na­tions who are crav­ing get­ting to this Eu­ros more than us.

“We just want to give the fans, the loyal sup­port­ers who turn out to watch us, some­thing to shout about.

“Get­ting to a ma­jor tour­na­ment for them is the aim of ev­ery­one.”

While Scot­land booked that play-off un­der Alex McLeish, that is three wins on the bounce for the first time in two years and McGinn is con­vinced that Scot­land are a far more se­ri­ous propo­si­tion un­der Steve Clarke.

“I have never had a run of scor­ing like this be­fore,” ad­mit­ted McGinn.

“Naisy has helped me be­cause he links the play and I can feed off the scraps. But it’s odd. I went 15 caps with­out a goal. And it was an­noy­ing me.

“Then I got the goal against Rus­sia and it just seems to have come from there. Hope­fully I can carry it on into the play-offs, if it is help­ing the team and the cam­paign I am de­lighted.

“Tonight was a night where it could eas­ily have been the same old Scot­land, we con­cede and then heads drop.

“But we re­grouped, got to­gether again and def­i­nitely go­ing into the play­offs we are in a much bet­ter place.

“We were a squad and a na­tion bat­tered for con­fi­dence at the start of the cam­paign but slowly and surely we have built it up.

“Get­ting a strong end to the cam­paign was mas­sive for us, we have had three wins in a row now and were look­ing for­ward to the play-offs.

“In the sec­ond half tonight you saw a Scot­land team again and hope­fully in March we can keep it go­ing.”

With the likes of Andy Robert­son, Kieran Tier­ney, Ryan Fraser and Scott Mc­Tom­i­nay still to re­turn, Ryan Christie is bullish about our chances of qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

‘‘I’ve no pref­er­ence as to who we get in Fri­day’s draw for the play-offs,” he said.

“Over­all it has been a frus­trat­ing cam­paign but we have the play-offs to fall back on.

“March is still a while away but when it come around we will all be des­per­ate to be there. We are not go­ing to get a bet­ter chance than this to reach the Eu­ros.

“It gives us con­fi­dence to look at the good play­ers who are still to come back for March,” the Celtic man added.

“But the gaffer has kept a good core of play­ers who know their jobs when called upon and that should help us go­ing into March.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.