The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Scot­land’ s new dou­ble act

Euro 2020: Gal­lagher wants to link up with McKenna again to face Kaza­khstan

- BY DANNY LAW Sports · Scotland · Motherwell F.C. · Cyprus · Nicosia · Steve Clarke · Dundee United F.C. · Dundee · Kazakhstan · John McGinn · Eamonn Brophy · Lawrence Shankland

Scot­land debu­tant De­clan Gal­lagher hopes he and Scott McKenna get an­other op­por­tu­nity against Kaza­khstan to­mor­row to prove they de­serve to be the na­tional team’s start­ing cen­tre-back pair­ing.

The Mother­well player earned his first cap in Satur­day’s 2-1 vic­tory against Cyprus in Ni­cosia along­side Dons de­fender McKenna with goals from

Ryan Christie and John McGinn earn­ing Steve Clarke’s men vic­tory.

The Scots fin­ish their Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing group games against Kaza­khstan at Ham­p­den to­mor­row evening and Gal­lagher hopes he and McKenna get the nod to start again.

He said: “I thought we com­pli­mented each other well.

We made sure the striker wasn’t get­ting the ball too eas­ily to feet. That hap­pened in the first half but we got to grips with it.

“That was our first time play­ing to­gether so it was pleas­ing that we did well.

“I hope we can (ce­ment that part­ner­ship). I just want to do well for Scot­land and this was a great re­sult.

“The team has re­ceived a lot of bad press re­cently but hope­fully we can build on this with the play-off games com­ing up.

“It has been a happy camp and the boys have been good with me. We have to stay pos­i­tive.”

Clarke’s side will fin­ish third in Group I with a draw against Kaza­khstan, although the na­tional boss is hop­ing to make it three wins in a row to help build mo­men­tum ahead of the Euro 2020 play-offs in March.

For Gal­lagher, who spent 11 months in prison for at­tack­ing a chef in 2013, mak­ing his in­ter­na­tional debut was a dream come true. The for­mer Liv­ingston player had ear­lier ad­mit­ted that he feared it was a “wind-up” when he was first named in the Scot­land squad.

He said: “It was amaz­ing to make my debut. It is the thing that dreams are made of.

“I found out the night before that I was play­ing. The gaffer likes to give us a bit of time to pre­pare.

“I knew my fam­ily were up the back of the stand and a lot of peo­ple watch­ing back home and to stand and to sing your na­tional an­them and play for your coun­try is a dream. It was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing.

“I felt like cry­ing know­ing that my wife and my daugh­ter were there to see me get my first cap.”

● Ea­monn Bro­phy has been called up to the Scot­land squad for to­mor­row’s match after Dundee United striker Lawrence Shank­land was ruled out.

Bro­phy won his first cap against Cyprus in June.

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