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Scot Gemmill has high hopes for Oli McBurnie and Scott McKenna

Duo have been senior Scotland call-ups

Scot Gemmill has high hopes for Oli McBurnie and Scott McKenna

Scotland under-21 boss Scot Gemmill believes Oli McBurnie and Scott McKenna are ready to make their senior debuts under Alex McLeish.

Swansea striker McBurnie  has been on loan at Barnsley since January where he has scored five goals in seven appearances and won the Sky Bet Championship player of the month award for February.

Along with Aberdeen defender McKenna, also 21,  he was was named in McLeish’s squad for the upcoming friendly double-header at home to Costa Rica on March 23 and away to Hungary four days later.

Gemmill will have to do without both players for the forthcoming European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Andorra but is confident they are up to making the next step in international football.

Speaking at Hampden Park after announcing his squad, he said: “They are definitely prepared.

“If you trace back, they have not played only for the  Under-21s but the Under-19s as well, but the real confidence for the manager to select them comes from their club performances.

“Both of them have consistently shown that they can be trusted to play so it is fantastic for everyone that they have been given the opportunity to become part of the full squad.

“Scott McKenna came in against Holland in the first (qualifying) game and I think I’m right in saying his club manager (Derek McInnes) took note of his level of performance and brought him into his team.

“Oli was supposed to go on loan to Barnsley away back, it didn’t happen, but it is great that he got the chance to go and he hast taken the opportunity he has been given.

“I believe he has just won player of the month so it shows the level of performance these players have been putting in.

“It is a real motivation for all the players to continue their progression.”

Gemmill also lost assistant manager Peter Grant to the senior set-up and he will be replaced by former Falkirk manager and ex-assistant Scotland boss Peter Houston.

The former Scotland midfielder believes Grant will be a good conduit between the youth and senior teams.

“Peter has been with the 21s all year and was at  the Toulon Tournament  last year (with Under-20s), so it has really helped his knowledge of the younger players,” said Gemmill, who was “extremely flattered” to be linked with the Scotland post before McLeish was appointed for the second time.

“It is great for that link and the knowledge within the senior staff of what is available to them.”

Dundee United keeper Josh Donaldson, Chelsea youngster Harvey St Clair and striker Robbie Muirhead of MK Dons have been included in the squad for the first time.

Gemmill said: “The squad is always evolving. It is not a closed door.

“There are plenty of players who are not in the squad who could easily be in it but that’s how it should be, it’s the national team, it should be hard to get in the squad.”

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