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Toulon Performance Shows Scotland’s Future Might Be Bright

Date: 18th June 2018

 

As yet another World Cup entertains the planet without Scotland taking part, you’d be forgiven to think that the Scots would be down in the dumps.

But before the greatest football competition began in Russia, the Scottish under-21 side took part in the illustrious Toulon tournament.

After a draw with Togo, Scotland would beat hosts France and South Korea to top their group.

They performed admirably well in the first half of their semi-final against England, taking the lead in the thirtieth minute. Unfortunately England were the better side in the second half and eventually won the game 3-1.

Scotland would then put on a spirited performance against Turkey, losing on penalties and securing fourth place in the Tournament standings.

There were plenty of positives from the young Scottish players and it’s enough for us to feel that we might have better fortunes coming with the next crop of players coming through to represent our national team.

The young side looked very organised under Head Coach Scot Gemmill.

They looked very good technically with their passing and the ability to keep the ball for significant periods. They worked well as a team, not bad when you consider so many hadn’t been called up for that level before the competition began.

They managed to create good chances, scoring in each of their games. Against England, Michael Johnston scored a terrific solo goal on the left-hand side. He beat three defenders in the process, before smashing the ball home. The Celtic youth was awarded the third best player of the tournament.

Olivier Burke was criticised by at least one major Scottish newspaper for his attitude but I’d like to point out that the full international could have easily blown off the call-up ad gone on holiday instead, yet he turned up, scored twice and captained the squad.

Sixteen year old midfielder Billy Gilmour certainly looks a player. We heard a lot about him during his early days at Rangers before he joined English giants Chelsea. He’s impressed with the Chelsea youth sides but his outings in France showed us he could be a real gem for Scotland. He took to under-21’s like a duck to water; showing a superb first touch, awareness and composure as he scored a superb goal against South Korea.

The fact that Gemmill gave Gilmour the captain’s armband during the third place play-off game against Turkey, should tell you the character the SFA Performance School Graduate has. The teen was named as ‘Revelation of the Tournament’. Hopefully he’ll get more games at this level in the next year.

Scot Gemmill was keen to explain why he thinks the future is bright for the Scots:

“We have a bigger selection and depth. A lot of people in Scotland are questioning where the young players are. Performances like this show that work is happening here and at clubs.”

I think he’s right and let’s hope that we can keep on progressing.

I’m also happy to see more young Scottish talent heading abroad to further their footballing education.

Burke had a year in the Bundesliga and Ryan Guald is still developing in Portugal at Sporting Lisbon. Liam Henderson has impressed since his January move to Bari and is now being linked with a big move to a Serie A side.

David Bates will be at Hamburg next term and Toulon squad member Harvey St Clair has now followed suit as he’s just left Chelsea for Venezia.

These players will gain invaluable life and footballing experiences with their time playing in foreign leagues and living in different cultures.

I think that we could be at the beginning of a strong era for Scotland and I’m excited to see what happens next!

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