Craig Taylor provides the low-down on Scotland's defence for the 2016 Victory Shield tournament, as part of our three part series looking at the back line, the midfield and the attack.
If Scotland is to record its seventeenth outright Victory Shield triumph then it will need to ensure that they have a back line that is watertight. Having only conceded three goals during last year’s tournament, there will be optimism within the Scottish ranks that a good defensive record could prove to be the key for them as they aim for triumph. But who has been tasked with keeping the opposition at bay for Scotland’s Under-16s?
Scotland’s goalkeepers for the tournament are comprised of Celtic’s Ryan Mullen and Aberdeen’s Archie Mair. Mullen has been selected as the first choice keeper going into the tournament and is one of seven Celts to make it into Brian McLaughlin and James Grady’s squad for the tournament. He will be able to call on experience gained from being called up for the Scotland Under-16 squad that took part in the Under-16 UEFA Development Tournament earlier in the year. Back-up Mair has featured in the Dons’ Under-20 team, despite his young age of 15.
During Scotland’s opening match against Northern Ireland, the right back position was taken by Chris Hamilton (pictured, above) of Heart of Midlothian, who also wears the armband for the side. The centre of defence was occupied by Luis Binks of Tottenham Hotspur, one of only two members of the squad to play their football outside of Scotland, and Taylor Wilson of Hamilton Academical, who recorded his first Under-20s appearance for the Accies at the age of 14.
Meanwhile, Rangers left back Jamie Walker completed the back line for the opening match, putting in a solid display down the left flank. Reinforcements come in the form of Rangers’ Nathan Patterson, Celtic’s Andrew Kerr and Kane O’Connor, the latter of whom made the bench for the Hibernian first team earlier in the season for their Irn Bru Cup match against Turriff United, at the tender age of 15.
The defensive unit can look on their first game fondly, having successfully kept a clean sheet in their opening 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland on Sunday. Not only did the back line keep their Northern Irish counterparts at bay, but centre back Taylor Wilson opened the scoring for the Dark Blues. All in all a great start to the Victory Shield for the Scottish defence and coaches McLaughlin and Grady will be hoping that they can record two more clean sheets for the remaining matches in the group.