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Scotland look ahead to England showdown after Qatar triumph

Written by  Jamie Braidwood
 
 
Scotland Under 16’s manager Brian McLaughlin has urged his side to ‘dominate the ball’ ahead of Thursday’s international friendly against England.
 
Speaking after Scotland’s 7-0 victory over Qatar at the Oriam Performance Centre on Tuesday, McLaughlin said his side will not sit back, but will look to keep the ball.
 
“We will have the ball”, he said. “Everything we will work on in training on Wednesday is going to be about how we dominate the ball and how we play in England’s half. That’s what we are here to do and that’s what everything in training will go towards. The boys have got the ability so it's important that keeping the ball is the target.”
 
England will offer a much sterner test than the one Scotland faced against Qatar. Goals from Andrew Winter, Cole Starrs, Michael Sparkes, Karamoko Dembele and Jamie Hamilton gave Scotland a deserved and comfortable victory.
 
“It’s going to be tough”, said McLaughlin. “But we take these games to try and give the boys the biggest challenge we can give them.. England are very good, we’ve seen footage of them. So for us we’ll go out on Thursday and we’re going to again try and do what we want to do. Whatever happens in the game happens. The main thing is that we are better after the game, and we will be.”
 
McLaughlin also indicated that there would be changes to Scotland’s starting 11 on Thursday.
 
“We've always had it in our head that this week was about getting as much minutes for the entire squad as possible”, he said. “That's not going to change, that's never going to change. So there will be changes, without a doubt. There may be players playing in different positions so we can see them. We're just using this as a training camp.
 
“This is the first time they've ever been together as a group. They played a couple of training matches amongst each other about a month ago. So really going into today we weren't quite sure what we were going to get. All we're hoping for for this week is by Saturday we're a better group, better team, and for us we need to have better individual players by next week.”
 
Celtic winger Karamoko Dembele impressed against Qatar on Tuesday, coming off the bench in the second half to score a goal and set up three more in a 30 minute cameo. McLaughlin said that he has seen an improvement in Dembele over the past few months.
 
“Karamoko is an interesting one”, he said. “On the ball he is magnificent. There's no doubt about it, he's exciting, he's magnificent. But without the ball now he's becoming really aggressive at how he closes it down. He wants to do this for the team now and credit to Celtic and credit to the Scotland squad he was a part of last year as well. He's looked at those players and thought 'you know what, this is what I need to do’. He's a special talent.

“I've absolutely seen an improvement in him over the past few months. You see him on the training pitch when we're doing defending or working on how we're going to press, because we need to get the ball back before we can play. He understands that now. He wants to be a part of this. He's a great lad, he wants to be a part of the group and the group want him to be a part of them.”
 
Scotland will face England at Forthbank Stadium in Stirling at 5:30pm on Thursday, before completing their week of international friendlies with a meeting against Uruguay, back in Edinburgh, on Saturday. 
 
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