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The 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship takes place in Poland from the 16th to the 30th of June, 2017. Matches will take place across seven different stadia in seven different cities across the country. Sweden are the current holders of the competition after defeating Portugal on penalties in June’s final of the 2015 edition in Prague.
 
For the first time in the tournament’s history, the 2017 edition will see twelve teams competing, unlike the previous ones, which saw eight compete. The nine group winners will automatically qualify for the tournament, where they will join Poland in the finals.
 
Out of the nine groups, only the four best runners-up qualify for the two-legged play-offs, with the two winners qualifying. Results against the side finishing sixth in the group do not count in the ranking of second-placed teams, as two of the groups only have five teams.
 
The Scotland U21 side has not qualified for the European Under-21 Championship since 1996, although they reached the play-offs for the 2004 and 2011 editions, but were unable to overcome Croatia and Iceland respectively.
 
Scotland's Group  (Group 3)
 
Group 3 includes France, a squad with many talented players, including Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman and their captain, Aymeric Laporte of Alteltic Bilbao. Iceland could be considered an up-and-coming footballing nation, but with their senior side reaching the 2016 UEFA European Championship in France next summer, their youth team will be confident. Their under-21 side also played at the 2011 Under-21 Championship in Denmark, where they qualified by beating Scotland in the play-offs.
 
Also in Group 3 is Ukraine, who also reached the 2011 edition of the tournament, FYR Macedonia will provide tricky opposition to the Scots, with recent results improving, and Northern Ireland, another team whose senior side has qualified for Euro 2016 next summer.
 
Group 3 so far
 
The group got underway in June, as Iceland got their campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable 3-0 home win against Macedonia in Reykjavik.
 
Scotland’s first game was an away trip against Northern Ireland on the 5th of September. The game at Lurgan’s Mourneview Park saw the Scots win by two goals to one. Northern Ireland took an early lead through Mikhail Kennedy’s goal, but goals from Ryan Christie and Ryan Fraser ensured the Scots got off to the perfect start.
 
The same day also saw two shocks in the group, as Iceland beat France 3-2 at home andh Macedonia beating Ukraine 1-0, also at home. Three days later Iceland were then held at home to Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw.
 
October’s qualifiers got underway as Iceland secured an away 1-0 victory in Ukraine. Two days later on the 10th of October, France beat Scotland 2-1 at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen, as a Stephen Kingsley's own goal and a Corentin Tolisso strike secured the win for France in front of a crowd of 3,025. Billy King scored a late consolation goal for the Scots, in a match in which Sporting Lisbon’s Ryan Gauld was sent off.
 
The 13th of October saw Scotland face group leaders Iceland at Pittodrie. In front of a crowd of 1,985, Scotland had many chances to win the match, but a good defensive performance from Iceland saw Scotland being able to only get a point from the match. Elsewhere in the group, France beat Ukraine 2-0 in Strasbourg, while Macedonia defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 in Lurgan.
 
At the present time, Scotland sit fourth in Group 3, with four points out of a possible nine. The Scots are seven points behind Iceland, although have two games in hand. Iceland are the only unbeaten side so far in the group, with eleven points, while France are second on six points, along with Macedonia in third. Northern Ireland have a point, while Ukraine have lost all three of their matches so far.
 
Scotland’s remaining fixtures
 
Up next for Scotland is a vital match on the 13th of November against Ukraine at St. Mirren Park in Paisley, which is seen as a must-win match for the Scots. Scotland must then wait until March for their next qualifiers, as they place France away on the 25th of March, before facing Northern Ireland at home on the 29th.
 
Scotland face a double-header in September next year, as the Scots face Macedonia at home on the 2nd, with Ukraine away on the 6th. Then next October, Scotland play Iceland away on the 5th, with the group finishing with an away trip to Macedonia on the 8th.
 
Overview of the campaign so far
 
A mixed start to the campaign for Scotland so far. A good away victory in Northern Ireland, a defeat, despite a good performance against France, while a draw against Iceland in a match that should have been won. The next match against Ukraine is vital for the Scots, with a win a must if Scoland, at least, want to finish second and have a chance of a play-off spot.
 
There is a lot of good quality players in the U21 pool, with Callum Paterson and Ryan Gauld already having been in Gordon Strachan’s senior squad. New captain John McGinn has impressed in the centre of the park for the Scots, whilst Ryan Christie and Sam Nicholson have caused the opposition problems with their attacking flair.
 
With the Scotland senior team unfortunately not qualifying for Euro 2016, or at least the play-offs, this gives the U21 players a good chance of making the step up to the senior squad in time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers that begin next September. Also, Hull City defender Andrew Robertson could return to the U21 squad from the senior squad to help the team in the qualifiers for Poland.
 
Elsewhere in qualifying
 
At the moment eight teams find themselves having made a perfect start. They are Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Portugal, Croatia, Germany, Austria, and England.
 
England find themselves two from two in a group with Norway, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
 
The other home nations find themselves in contrasting groups. The Republic of Ireland have one of the hardest groups as they currently sit behind unbeaten Serbia and Italy, and with Slovenia a place behind them on joint points. Wales though are unbeaten from three in a group with Bulgaria, Romania, and Denmark. At present, they look in good shape to form a real challenge for the top spot. 
 
The last group matches take place in October 2016, with the play-off matches taking place in November, 2016.
 
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:22

Scotland confirm 2015 Victory Shield squad

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2015 Victory Shield
Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, SCOTLAND, Wales
1st November – 5th November 2015
Newport, Wales
 
The Scotland squad for the newly revamped Victory Shield was today announced. Scotland will travel to Newport in Wales to participate in the round robin tournament which will now take place over the space of a week and will see the Republic of Ireland participating instead of England.
 
Scotland's fixture timetable is:
1st November Scotland V Wales - 4.00pm (Dragon Park)
3rd November Scotland V Northern Ireland - 2.00pm (Newport Stadium)
5th November Scotland V Republic of Ireland - 2.00pm (Newport Stadium)
 
Scotland Under-16 squad for 2015 Victory Shield:
 
Goalkeepers
Jon McCracken (Hamilton Academical) 
Ryan Mullen (Celtic)
 
Defenders
Stephen Welsh (Celtic)
Lewis Mayo (Rangers) 
Jack Thomson (Rangers) 
Kieran Freeman (Dundee United) 
Daniel Church (Celtic) 
Scott Gray (Rangers) 
Kyle Smith (Heart of Midlothian)
Jordan Houston (Rangers)
 
Midfielders
Stephen Kelly (Rangers) 
Elliot Watt (Preston North End) 
Sebastian Ross (Aberdeen) 
Aidan Maxwell (Forth Valley Academy) 
Jack Paterson (Kilmarnock) 
Christian Antoniazzi (Celtic) 
 
Forwards
Jack Aitchison (Celtic) 
Zak Rudden (Rangers) 
Glenn Middleton (Norwich City)
Lewis Hutchison (Aberdeen)
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 11:27

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.

Squad:
 
Goalkeepers:
 
Ryan Fulton (Liverpool)
Jack Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian)
Jonathan Henly (Ipswich Town)
 
Defenders:
 
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)
 
Midfielders:
 
Jay Fulton (Swansea City – on loan at Oldham Athletic)
John McGinn (Hibernian)
Craig Slater (Kilmarnock)
John Souttar (Dundee United)
Charlie Telfer (Dundee United)
 
Forwards:
 
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)
Ricky Sbragia has named a 23-player squad for Scotland’s forthcoming UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying matches against France and Iceland at Pittodrie Stadium.
 
UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers
Scotland v France
Saturday, 10th October 2015, kick-off 3pm
Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
 
Scotland v Iceland
Tuesday, 13th October 2015, kick-off 5.45pm
Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
 
Goalkeepers
Ryan Fulton (Liverpool)
Jack Hamilton (Heart of Midlothian)
Jonathan Henly (Ipswich Town) 
 
Defenders
Stuart Findlay (Celtic) *
Stephen Hendrie (West Ham United)
Dominic Hyam (Reading)
Donald Love (Manchester United)
Callum McFadzean (Sheffield United) 
Jordan McGhee (Heart of Midlothian) 
Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian)
 
Midfielders
Jay Fulton (Swansea City) **
John McGinn (Hibernian)
Craig Slater (Kilmarnock)
John Souttar (Dundee United)
Charlie Telfer (Dundee United)
 
Forwards
Ryan Christie (Celtic) ***
Jason Cummings (Hibernian)
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) **** 
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 to Kilmarnock
** on loan to Oldham Athletic
*** on loan to Inverness Caledonian Thistle
**** on loan to Ipswich Town
***** on loan to St Mirren
UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship first round qualifiers
Kazakhstan, SCOTLAND, Austria, Latvia
Sunday 11th October 2015 - Friday 16th October 2015
 
Pauline Hamill announced her Scotland Women's Under-17 squad yesterday for the first round of qualifying for next summer's European Championships. 
 
Scotland will take on hosts Kazakhstan, Austria and Latvia in the second week of October. The top two teams from the round-robin competition qualify for next year's elite round phase of qualification. 
 
Scotland U17's Girls squad
 
Erin Clachers (Glasgow City FC)
Eartha Cumings (Spartans FC)
Nicole Cameron (Celtic FC)
Murron Cunningham (Glasgow City FC)
Lauren Doran-Barr (Rangers LFC)
Kirsty Fraser (Glasgow City FC)
Kimberley McAlpine (Central Girls Academy)
Katie Rice (Glasgow City FC)
Ellis Dalgliesh (Celtic FC)
Claire Farquhar (Rangers LFC)
Samantha Kerr (Central Girls Academy)
Shannon McGregor (Aberdeen LFC)
Jamie-Lee Napier (Celtic FC)
Ellis Notley (Hibernian LFC)
Derrian Gollan (Forfar Farmington FC)
Lauren Gordon (Aberdeen LFC)
Brogan Hay (Glasgow City FC)
Kaela McDonald (Celtic FC)
The following players have been annnounced for the WU15 training camp on Wednesday 30th - Friday 2nd at Toryglen.
 
Georgie Adderlay - Spartans LFC
Sophie Allison - Glasgow City FC
Jade Baillie - Celtic FC
Emma Craig - St Mirren BC
Morgan Cross - Central Girls Academy
Lauren Alison Davidson - Glasgow City FC
Rhianne Ferguson - Central Girls Academy
Leah Fleming - Jeanfield Swifts
Kelsey Gibson - Chelsea LFC
Carly Girsoli - Celtic FC
Taylor Hamill - Celtic FC
Jemma Marriott - Glasgow City FC
Micheala McAlonie - Hearts LFC
Philippa McCallum - Forfar Farmington LFC
Laura McCartney - Glasgow City FC
Tara McGonigle - Linlithgow Rose LFC
Kathleen McGovern - Celtic FC
Rebecca McGowan - Raith Rovers
Sara McWhirter - Rangers LFC
Kirsty Morrison - Hibernian LFC
Emily Mutch - Westdyke Thistle
Dierdrie O'Riordan - Aberdeen LFC
Elena Santoyo-Brown - Boroughmuir LFC
Naomi Welch - Hearts LFC
Kendall Welsh - Celtic FC
Rachel Wolecki - Jeanfield Swifts
The Scotland under-15s squad for their international challenge match against Switzerland on September 22nd has been announced.
 
The squad is as follows:
 
Goalkeepers
 
David Wilson - St Mirren 
Ryan Mullen - Celtic 
 
Defenders
 
Christopher Hamilton - Hearts 
Taylor Wilson - Hamilton 
Eddie Campbell - Kilmarnock 
Nathan Patterson - Rangers 
Jack McDowell - Celtic 
Daniel Finlayson - Rangers
 
Midfielders
 
Harry Cochrane - Hearts 
Dean Cornelius - Hibernian 
Dean Campbell - Aberdeen 
Ethan Ross - Aberdeen 
Terry Taylor - Aberdeen 
Billy Gilmour - Rangers 
 
Forwards
 
Jamie Semple - Motherwell 
Kieran McKechnie - Rangers 
Tyler Chicken - Aberdeen 
Declan McDonald - Alloa 
Kieran McGrath - Celtic
Leon Chiwara - Celtic
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 16:59

Scotland Women's U19 qualifying squad announced

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The Scotland Women's U19 squad has been announced for their UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign.
 
The team have been drawn in a group with Ukraine, Albania and Austria in a bid to reach the finals next summer. 
 
Carla Boyce - Glasgow City FC
Sarah Clelland - Glasgow City FC
Chelsea Cornet - Hibernian LFC
Cassie Cowper - Aberdeen LFC
Erin Cuthbert - Glasgow City FC
Rebecca Flaherty - Aberdeen LFC
Amy Gallacher - Forfar Farmington LFC
Laura Hamilton - Celtic FC
Kirsty Hanson - Liverpool LFC
Abigail Harrison - Hibernian LFC
Kirsty Howat - Rangers LFC
Rachel McLauchlan - Aberdeen LFC
Cailin Michie - Hibernian LFC
Claire Adams Mullen - Rangers LFC
Georgie Rafferty - Glasgow City FC
Hayley Sinclair - Rangers LFC
Lia Tweedie - Hibernian LFC
Courtney Whyte - Glasgow City FC
Friday, 04 September 2015 14:57

Preview: Scotland v Northern Ireland U21s

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Click here to view the full Scotland under-21s squad

Nineteen years, three months and five days. Since Scotland last played at a UEFA European U21s Championship finals, confirming their fourth-placed finish with a loss against France in the third-place play-off on 31 May 1996, almost a generation has passed.

In hindsight, that success seems a false dawn now, as they have struggled to get past the qualification stage ever since.

Newly appointed coach Ricky Sbragia will be looking to rectify that and get off to a flying start to the qualifying campaign for the 2017 UEFA European U21 Championship finals in Poland when his team take on Northern Ireland in their opening match at Mourneview Park in Lurgan on Saturday.

Scotland have been drawn into a strong group, being paired with France, Ukraine, Iceland and FYR Macedonia. Iceland already showed their credentials when they easily beat Macedonia 3-0 in the only qualifying match played so far. Scotland need to get out of the blocks equally as quickly if they are to have any realistic chance of making it to the finals.

They will be pinning a good portion of their hopes on in-form Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser, who is currently impressing on loan at Ipswich and was nominated for the Championship Player of the Month award for August on the back of his strong performances. Fraser has scored three goals in seven appearances for Ipswich so far, including a spectacular winner against Preston, and looks the player most likely to provide the attacking spark for Scotland.

In recent history, the most successful national teams have profited immensely from having blocks of players from the same teams in their ranks. Spain, with Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Germany, with strong blocks of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund players, respectively, have demonstrated just how fruitful knowing some of your teammates can be in terms of integration into the team and already having an understanding for their movement and behaviour on the field.

The time spent with national teams tends to be short, in many ways too short to build up any real attacking fluency or defensive partnerships. Having players in the squad that train and play with each other week in, week out is invaluable, as many of the seemingly telepathic connections that would usually require more time to build are already in place. It must be good, then, to see that kind of familiarity in the current under-21s squad, with goalkeeper Jack Hamilton, defenders Jordan McGhee & Callum Paterson and midfielders Billy King and Sam Nicholson all plying their trade at Hearts.

Other noteworthy players include Hibs forward Jason Cummings, West Ham’s Stephen Hendrie, Ryan Gauld of Sporting Lisbon fame and Dundee United’s John Souttar, who could make his debut for the under-21s.

For Northern Ireland, Michael Duffy of Celtic might be in line to get his fourth cap while Sbragia’s team will be looking to put Kilmarnock’s Conor Brennan, who is likely to start in goal, under early pressure.

Scotland have not played a competitive match against Northern Ireland on an under-21s level yet. However, they previously beat them 3-1 in a friendly in 2010 and will be hoping for a similar outcome on Saturday to secure a good platform from which to continue their campaign.

The players, all toddlers on that day in May 1996, will be hoping to defy history.

 

Scotland under-21 internationalist and former Aberdeen youth Ryan Fraser has missed out on the August English Championship Player of the Month award after being nominated for a series of high-quality showings for Ipswich Town.

It was announced this morning that the winner was Brighton & Hove Albion’s Kazenga LuaLua (pictured, right), younger brother of ex-Newcastle United attacker Lomana.

Fraser, a left-sided midfielder currently on-loan at the Tractor Boys from newly-promoted English Premiership underdogs Bournemouth AFC, was nominated for his sterling efforts during the first month of the league campaign.

The Aberdonian has scored two goals, including the winner against Preston North End at Deepdale, and has been credited with three assists so far this season.

Fraser is in Ricky Sbragia's Scotland under-21 squad for tonight's 2017 European Championship qualifier against Northern Ireland. If Fraser takes to the field in Lurgan, which appears likely given his good run of form at a high level, he will make his ninth appearance for his country at under-21 level.

Eventual winner LuaLua was also on sparkling form for his team throughout August. The pacy winger netted three times, including winners against Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers.

The 24 year-old, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but brought up on Tyneside, said: “It was very special just to be nominated for the award and to win is a very special moment for me, but the most important thing is that the team has started the season very well.”

His manager, former Newcastle boss Chris Hughton, added: "Kaz thoroughly deserves the award, he’s had a wonderful start.

"He has been exceptional in our first few games and he has a responsibility to keep that going and work on the aspects of his game that can help him improve, but the team have also played a great part in that and delivered for him."

Hughton was also victorious after being nominated for the August Manager of the Month award. Fraser’s boss at Ipswich, former Ireland, Sunderland and Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, was also nominated, with his side sitting in third-place after securing 10 points from a possible 15 in the early stages of England’s second-top division.

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