A fresh crop of Scottish midfielders takes to the stage at Oriam in this week’s Victory Shield, and on the evidence of their opening win over Northern Ireland there are strong grounds for optimism.
A dynamic midfield unit was the platform for the 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland, with players looking comfortable on the ball and keeping a good shape throughout.
Brian McLaughlin’s new look side had its first run out against France in September in a 4-0 defeat, but anyone who watched the game will tell you the score line did not the run of play.
Rangers’ Billy Gilmour (pictured, above) caught the eye against the French, and looks to have an exciting future in the game. He is already being earmarked for first team football this season at Ibrox, and coach Kenny Miller will have gone away with another glowing report for Mark Warburton. With scouts from Manchester United and Arsenal also in attendance, Gilmour turned in another confident display on Sunday, playing with his head up and always available for a pass.
Gilmour formed a solid midfield pairing with Hearts’ Harry Cochrane. Cochrane has come up through the ranks at Tynecastle and spearheaded his club’s summer success in the Foyle Cup. On Sunday’s evidence he has brought his club form to the international stage, as he played in a box to box role, linking up well in the final third.
Joining Cochrane in the squad was his Hearts team mate Marc Leonard. He showed great vision to lay on his side’s second goal for Zac Butterworth at Oriam, and is another one to watch in the years to come.
Sitting deeper in the midfield is Aberdeen’s Dean Campbell. He anchored the play well against the Irish and showed good physicality, especially in a more dogged second half. Campbell also provided the set piece delivery for Scotland’s opening goal of the game.
The final piece of the midfield jigsaw is St Mirren’s Ethan Erhahon, who came on to replace Gilmour in the second half, as Brian McLaughlin sought to add a steadying presence. He seemed to do just that and as he slotted in alongside Gilmour and Leonard.
And so it looks as though McLaughlin and James Grady have some exciting prospects on their hands as they turn to the match against defending champions Wales. With so much attention already drawn to Celtic’s Karmoko Dembele on the bench, along with the likes of Gilmour on the pitch, it is a Scotland team which looks unfazed and able to rise to the big occasion.