NE98 writer Keiran Fleming has put together this potential Scotland future XI, looking at some of the most promising uncapped players that could pull on the Scotland top in the future, could a squad including these players as well as some of the younger few in the current crop get us to a major tournament?
Goalkeeper- Robby McCrorie
Ayrshire born Robby McCrorie was signed by Rangers at the age of 14 and he has been making a name for himself over the last five years. McCrorie was loaned out to League 2 side Berwick Rangers in December 2017 for the rest of the season. Whilst on loan the keeper really impressed making 42 appearances and keeping eight clean sheets. He went on to win the club’s player of the year. At the end of the season he was called up to the under 21 Scotland squad.
McCrorie would spend the second half of the 2018-19 season on loan to Greenock Morton where he again had an impressive season. Due to his good performances for Morton the keeper was loaned to the Championship again at the beginning of this season this time to Queen of the South. McCrorie impressed again so much that he was controversially recalled in January. The keeper played 34 times in the 2nd tier keeping 11 clean sheets. It seems to be that he was recalled just to be loaned out again this time to a better team. Livingston snapped him up and he has been impressive during his short stint in the Premiership. The keeper has recently signed a new contract and he is set to spend another season on loan at Livi. Once he returns McCrorie should really expect to challenge for the number one shirt at Ibrox.
Left Back- Aaron Hickey
Hickey is by far one of the hottest prospects Scottish football has had in a long time. The left back played 30 times for the Jambos last season and he was considered to be the bright spark in a relegation bound team. The youngster can play in every position across the back four, this type of versatility means that he can adjust to multiple tactical formations. Hickey played for Celtic’s youth academy for just a year before being released however after returning to Hearts he proved that he was more than capable to play at the highest level of scottish football.
His impressive performances have attracted the eyes of some of Europe’s biggest clubs such as Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Celtic have also been linked with the recently turned 18-year-old. Hickey only has a year left on his contract and it is very unlikely that he will sign a new contract so Hearts should cash in on one of their biggest assets now.
Centre Back- Liam Morrison
The former Celtic youth prospect has already grabbed headlines over the last year for his exciting transfer to Bayern Munich. The youngster is seen as one of the best centre backs in his age group. Morrison was linked with a multitude of other clubs including Hoffeinheim however the thought of joining one of the best football academies in the world was too good an opportunity to pass on.
The 17-year-old is the very definition of a modern Centre Back combining his defensive abilities with his passing expertise. He is highly regarded in the Bavarian youth setup and is currently learning from the likes of World Cup record goalscorer Miroslav Klose and Bundesliga and Premier League winner Martin Demichelis. Morrison was also recently appointed captain of the Scotland under 17 side, this captaincy will most likely continue into the under 19 side where he will no doubt be a mainstay. The young Centre Back hopes to break into the first team within the next three years but his main goal is to become the best defender in the world.
Centre Back- Jamie Hamilton
The Hamilton graduate burst onto the scene this year playing 14 times for the Accies. Even though his time in the first team has been plagued with indiscipline, he has been shown three red cards this season, the centre back has still managed to impress. The 18-year-old has attracted attention from a few clubs across the border. Brighton are the team who have consistently been linked with a move for Hamilton in the last year. It looks as though he may spend at least another six months with the Accies due to Brighton being distracted by their current relegation battle.
The center back has shown his leadership skills at a national level captaining both the Scotland under 17s and under 19s. It is likely that Hamilton will spend another season in Scotland where he can hopefully iron out his discipline issues before he makes the move across the border to fulfill his potential.
Right Back- Harrison Ashby
Harrison Ashby could potentially be the answer to Scotland’s right back problem. He has been a mainstay in West Ham’s under 18s since 2017. Ashby made his debut for Scotland under 19s last year and he continued to be called up to the squad throughout the season. The attacking full back also made his first appearance for West Ham’s under 23s this season.
The 18-year-old just signed his first professional contract for the Hammers this summer showing that he is a highly thought of prospect. He will no doubt spend another season developing with the youth teams but the right back will hopefully be in the mix to get some minutes during cup games against sides from the lower divisions. After another season as part of a youth development squad Ashby would either have to push to be a squad player for the London side or go out on loan to get some competitive experience. Competitive experience in the next year or so is crucial if Ashby is to develop into Scotland’s starting right back in the next 5 years.
Centre Midfield- Lewis Ferguson
Lewis Ferguson impressed as soon as he arrived at Pittodrie in 2018. He quickly became one of the first names on the Dons team sheet in his first year at the club and he has consistently been part of Derek McInnes’ starting eleven ever since. The Hamilton academy graduate has shown over the last two years that he has the potential to be a huge player for Scotland’s international team. The 20-year-old has showcased both his passing ability and his defensive capabilities throughout his career so far.
Fergurson was awarded for his quality performances last season with the SFWA Young Player of the Year. As you can imagine with Ferguson being a key player for the Dons over the last two years he has caught the eye of clubs on both sides of the border. In Scotland the young midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to Rangers which makes sense considering Ferguson was a huge fan of the Ibrox side growing up. A move down south could be more interesting however, with Premier League side Burnley keeping a close eye on the under 21 international. Ferguson’s style of play would be a fantastic fit for Sean Dyche’s Burnley but the midfielder could flourish in a majority of the English Premier League’s lower tier teams. It was also rumored that Crystal Palace looked at him while he was with Hamilton Accies. Another year under McInnes’ watch won’t do Ferguson any harm but it is extremely likely that he will move away from Pittodrie at some point in the next few years.
Centre Midfielder- Billy Gilmour
Gilmour is likely to make the step into the Scotland senior set up within the next year and it is thoroughly deserved. The midfielder has impressed in most of his 11 appearances for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. The 19-year-old became somewhat of a squad player at the turn of the year and he started to get more game time during the restart of the Premier League. Gilmour impressed fans and pundits alike with his offensive play and defensive awareness.
Sadly the former Rangers youth player had to undergo knee surgery recently which means that he could be out for four months. The European Golden boy nominee will likely continue to be a squad player next season but he will no doubt receive even more first team football. In the next 10 years it is almost a certainty that Gilmour will become the face of the Scotland national team whilst also plying his trade on the biggest stages in club football. Hopefully in the next two years he can become a consistent starter for Chelsea whilst also forcing his way into the Scotland team.
Center Midfielder- Chris Mochrie
Mochrie is one of the hottest young prospects to come through Dundee United’s academy in years. He is the youngest debutant ever for the Arabs, he came on against Morton at the age of 16 years and 27 days. The midfielder has continued to showcase his talents with the developmental sides and he has also impressed whilst training with the first team. The introduction of new manager Micky Mellon could be fantastic for Mochrie due to Mellon’s preference to blood young players into the first team.
The 17-year-old may expect to play a bit part role next season however it wouldn’t be surprising if he managed to force his way into a squad player role. Mochrie has consistently made appearances for Scotland’s under 16 and under 17 sides for the past two years. Due to Mochrie’s young age United should be able to keep hold of him for the next three years however there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the young attacking midfielder. There is a lot of untapped raw potential in Mochrie and hopefully he can live up to the hype. Mochrie could be a fantastic attacking threat in a midfield three with Ferguson and Gilmour in the future.
Right Winger- Karamoko Dembele
This is quite a controversial pick due to the fact that he declared that he wanted to play for England’s under 17 side last year however there is still a chance that Dembele can commit to Scotland. Dembele burst onto the scene when he made his debut for Celtic’s under 20s at the age of just 13. The winger has played twice for the first team whilst he was 16-years-old. He has made consistent appearances for both England and Scotland’s from under 15 to under 17 level.
The wonderkid has been linked with moves to the football giants of Europe such as Arsenal, PSG and Juventus. Dembele made very little impact last year however this year could potentially be his breakthrough season with Neil Lennon ready to give the hot prospect a run with the first team. Although he is still very young, getting a player with the talent that Dembele possesses to commit to the Scottish national set up is crucial when it comes to securing a successful future for the national team. Considering the wealth of promising young attacking talent that England already have, Dembele might change his mind again to ensure he gets plenty international game time throughout his career.
Center Forward- James Scott
James Scott is a Motherwell youth graduate who impressed so much in the first half of last season that Hull City were willing to part with £1.5 million for the striker. Unluckily for Scott the English Championship was suspended as soon as he arrived in Hull. This doesn’t seem to have stunted his development as a player because since the restart he has proven to be a fantastic forward option for the Tigers. In his first five appearances in England’s second tier he has scored once but the fact that the 19-year-old is consistently playing for Hull can only be a good thing for Scotland.
There is a desperate need for a young and upcoming striker in Scotland and Scott definitely fits the bill. If the end of this season is anything to go by Scott can probably expect to be pushing for a starting position at the KCOM Stadium next year. He has only made a solitary appearance for Scotland’s under 21 side but it is pretty likely that he can expect even more call ups to the under 21s.
Left Winger- Kai Kennedy
Kennedy has been hotly tipped to break into Rangers first team next season by a lot of the coaching staff at the club. Steven Gerrard himself has said Kennedy will be part of his plans in the 2020/21 season. Although recent unconfirmed rumors suggest Kennedy could be leaving Iborx. These range from the club telling him to leave, to the youngster looking at bigger teams across Europe, so it’s anyone’s guess.
His impressive performances for the developmental side and Scotlands under 19s have caught the eyes of Manchester City and Bayern Munich who are apparently hoping to pick up the winger for free after his contract expires next year. The 18-year-old is also held in the highest regard in Scotland’s national set up where they see Kennedy as a future international star. It will be interesting to see how the young winger copes with the pressure being put on him by both Rangers and the SFA. The fact that he has only one year left on his contract also adds a bit of excitement for the next year. If he has a fantastic breakout season he will have his pick of the elite clubs in Europe to go to. If Kennedy continues to improve and develop he could become one of the key members of Scotland’s frontline in the future.
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