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Scotland Under 21 European Qualifying Preview

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Scotland under 21s are currently gearing up for two crucial European Championship qualifiers against France and Iceland, both at Pittodrie Stadium.  

The Scots will take on France on Saturday night and Iceland on Tuesday next week.

The team have made a good start to the campaign after victory against Northern Ireland; goals from Ryan Christie and Ryan Fraser sealed the win last month.

Squad Information:

Scotland will be confident in their chances; the squad announced for the matches is a strong one with many of the ‘big hitters’ being selected.

The team is experienced, with players such as Hearts’ Callum Paterson and Manchester United’s Donald Love the main defensive players being selected. 

The midfielders include the League-Cup-Winning John McGinn, currently of Hibernian, John Souttar of Dundee United and Jay Fulton of Swansea City. 

It could be argued that Scotland’s attacking players are the biggest strength in the squad, big names such as; Jason Cummings, who has netted four times in the Scottish Championship so far, Ryan Christie, fresh from signing a contract with Celtic, and exciting young prospect Ryan Gauld are included in this bracket.

Eleven members of the squad currently play in the SPFL Premiership, many of whom are regular starters, showing the real depth and quality of the young Scottish side. 

Other leagues represented in the squad include those of the; SPFL Championship; English Premier League, Championship and League One; with Ryan Gauld the sole representative of the only non-UK based league.

Key Players:

John McGinn – The captain of the side will be looking to lead Scotland to victory in the two crucial qualifiers. McGinn is an integral part of the squad and has a lot of experience in high-profile matches.

Ryan Christie – The talented player will be looking to pose many problems for the defences of both sides and is in good form following two wins in a row with Inverness.

The Group:

The Scots will be relishing the challenge of playing France on Saturday; a team featuring the likes of Bayern Munich’s Kinsley Coman will prove difficult. The Iceland match will also be a tough task, with the Icelanders showing similar form to the first team as they sit top of the group, beating France in the process.

The Scots are currently in a good position; the team sit second, having only played one game, and are ahead of Macedonia and Northern Ireland who have played two matches so far. France and Ukraine are both on zero points after one match, with Iceland racing away at the top with seven, having played three matches.

Elsewhere in the group Ukraine host Iceland, Macedonia travel to Northern Ireland and France play Ukraine in Strasbourg.

The Verdict:

It is no secret that it will be a tough ask for Scotland to qualify with only the top team, and the four best runners up, qualifying for a play-off for the chance to fly to Poland in 2017 for the tournament. There is a small margin for error in under 21 qualifying, with the very limited qualifying places available.

But the team will take great confidence from the first match, beating one of their main rivals in Northern Ireland and already gaining a small advantage over the other sides below them. 

Scotland are currently unbeaten in three competitive matches and will be hoping this form continues on Saturday night.

Ryan Fulton (Liverpool)
Jack Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian)
Jonathan Henly (Ipswich Town)
Stuart Findlay (Celtic – on loan at Kilmarnock)
Marcus Fraser (Ross County)
Dominic Hyam (Reading)
Stephen Kingsley (Swansea City - on loan to Crewe)
Donald Love (Manchester United - on loan at Wigan Athletic)
Jordan McGhee (Heart of Midlothian)
Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian)
Jay Fulton (Swansea City – on loan at Oldham Athletic)
John McGinn (Hibernian)
Craig Slater (Kilmarnock)
John Souttar (Dundee United)
Charlie Telfer (Dundee United)
Ryan Christie (Celtic – on loan at Inverness Caledonian Thistle)
Jason Cummings (Hibernian)
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth – on loan at Ipswich Town)
Ryan Gauld (Sporting Clube de Portugal)
Billy King (Heart of Midlothian)
Declan McManus (Fleetwood Town)
Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian)
Lawrence Shankland (Aberdeen – on loan at St Mirren)
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