SCOTLAND UNDER 21s boss Scot Gemmill believes it’s better for Aberdeen talent Calvin Ramsay to be guaranteed action with the Under 19s squad rather than sit on the bench for the young Scots’ opening Euro qualifier in Turkey next month.
Gemmill named an almost entirely new-look squad from the last campaign, where they agonisingly fell short in their last qualifier when a win in Greece would have secured a first qualification for 25 years.
Hibs’ defender Josh Doig is in line for his first appearance for the 21s, but there’s no place for either of the Dons’ young full backs, right back Ramsay and left back Jack McKenzie, while Bologna have made Aaron Hickey unavailable as he recovers from double shoulder surgery.
But Gemmill defended his selection and believes it’s better for Ramsay to play with Billy Stark’s Under 19s squad because he’s behind highly-rated West Ham kid Harrison Ashby anyway.
He said: “The Aberdeen boys are doing really well playing a very good level. Calvin Ramsay is actually in the Under 19s squad because he’s still eligible. I think it’s really important they play, whether it’s for the 19s or the 21s.
“Jack hasn’t made the squad, but he could easily be in because he’s doing brilliantly. I’d expect him to be in the squad moving forwards.
“We’re very lucky we have several options in those positions. Hickey is unavailable and Nathan Patterson has moved up to the full squad otherwise he’d be here. But it should be hard to get into the squad and it’s brilliant we have these decisions to make.
“Of course Calvin is capable of playing, 100 per cent. But it’s about what else we’ve got. Harrison Ashby isn’t eligible to go and play for the 19s and he’s a tremendous prospect who is really highly regarded at West Ham.
“We really like him, Steve Clarke really likes him. There’s no point Calvin coming in and being on the bench and not play when he can go and play for the 19s. You have to maximise this international experience and the path to be joined-up thinking between the 19s, 21s and full team.
“To me, it’s a no brainer. Why would you want Ramsay to come and play, then that means Harrison can’t play? We need to give our best young players minutes at international level and right now we’re lucky Calvin can play 19s, Harrison can play 21s and Nathan has gone to the full squad.”
And Gemmill is looking forward to work with Hibs prospect Doig, who has been strongly linked with a big-money move down south, for the opening qualifier in Bursa and a behind-closed doors friendly in Wales the week before.
He said: “There’s always going to be speculation. He’s lucky to be playing at a good club under a good manager.
“I’m sure he’s getting fantastic advice. I know he was disappointed to pull out of the squad in June and hopefully he’s looking forward to playing at this level.
That’s the challenge – they need to be able to handle the hurdles on and off the pitch and not getting too high or too low.
The best players deal with the situation in front of them and can deal with the distractions.”
Scotland Under-21 Squad
Brian Kinnear (Rangers), Ross Sinclair (St Johnstone), Cieran Slicker (Manchester City), Harrison Ashby (West Ham), Tom Clayton (Liverpool), Josh Doig (Hibs), Lewis Mayo (Partick Thistle), Adam Montgomery (Celtic), Stephen Welsh (Celtic), Scott Banks (Crystal Palace), Jack Burroughs (Ross County), Lewis Fiorini (Lincoln City), Scott High (Huddersfield Town), Stephen Kelly (Rangers), Josh McPake (Morecambe), Ben Williamson (Livingston), Daniel Mackay (Hibs), Dapo Mebude (AFC Wimbledon), Glenn Middleton (St Johnstone), Zak Rudden (Partick Thistle), Jack Stretton (Derby County), Ewan Urain (Athletic Bilbao).