Scottish Daily Mail
‘Leaving Oriam to use Lesser Hampden will boost our Euro 2024 ambitions’
JOHN McGINN believes Scotland have every chance of reappearing on the big stage next summer, partly due to changes the SFA have brought in behind the scenes. Steve Clarke’s men are top of Group A having beaten Cyprus and Spain at the outset of their quest to reach Euro 2024. That sparkling start to the qualifying campaign came on the back of the decision to train at Lesser Hampden rather than the Oriam in Edinburgh, with the switch to a Glasgow hotel also eliminating the need to swap accommodation the day before big games. Ahead of the crucial double-header with Norway and Georgia next month, Aston Villa skipper McGinn feels the changes brought in can prove telling. ‘It definitely does make a big difference,’ he said. ‘Obviously, there are a lot of us who are spoiled down here (in England) with facilities, hotels and everything else. It’s absolutely perfect. ‘We’re not expecting that one bit with Scotland, as we know we are from a small country. But we also know the impact the perfect preparation can have. ‘We were delighted with the changes in the last camp. It contributed to two wins and, if we can deliver performances and results on the park, I am sure the SFA and everyone involved will more than back us moving forward. ‘To be honest, as players, we’re pretty low maintenance. Everyone gets on with it as we’re all just so proud to play for Scotland.’ This time last year, Scotland fell short in their delayed World Cup play-off with Ukraine, going down 3-1 at Hampden. With some of the squad facing a sizeable gap between their last club match and the game in Oslo, McGinn feels the introduction of a training camp in Spain is another positive development. ‘It was a completely unusual experience for all of us having such an important game and the gap in between,’ he reflected. ‘We didn’t do a training camp last year, so this year we are doing it. ‘We don’t know if that is going to bring a change, but that is something we have to try and address. ‘We are more than happy to do that, train away and keep ourselves fit and give ourselves the best possible chance of winning these two games. ‘Whether that would have changed the result last year, I don’t know. But that’s the sign of the growth of the squad. Not only on the park, but also off the park. We are learning from our mistakes. ‘When we have a positive result, we go back and see why. If we have a bad result, we’ll go back and see what we can change as players. The staff will get together and say the same. ‘It’s a very open group. We can handle criticism. Maybe if we were looking back at something we would change, then definitely.’ McGinn is today named the William Hill SFWA Men’s International Player of the Year for a fourth successive season. ‘I’m to be getting accused of corruption soon!’ joked the 28-year-old, who has 54 Scotland caps.