Gordon Strachan spurs on U21 hopefuls - Barrie McKay

Rangers winger Barrie McKay played for Scotland U21s in a 2-2 draw with Ukraine U21s
Rangers winger Barrie McKay played for Scotland U21s in a 2-2 draw with Ukraine U21s

Barrie McKay believes Gordon Strachan's recent presence with the Scotland Under-21 set up has motivated players to reach the senior national team.

The Scotland manager helped Ricky Sbragia's men prepare for Friday's European Under 21 Championship qualifying draw against Ukraine.

"It was good to see him there watching the game," McKay told BBC Scotland.

"The fact he's taken his time out to come and watch us shows his dedication to the job."

Last week Strachan spoke of the "obsession" he has to improve the state of Scottish football and he intends to announce next month how he hopes to go about doing that.

But he spent last week supporting Under-21 head coach Sbragia during training for the Ukraine match, something that was clearly appreciated by the players.

"He just let Ricky get on with what he's been doing," said Rangers midfielder McKay. "But it probably gave the boys a wee bit more light into seeing that there is that pathway into the first team.

"We're obviously meant to be the future of Scottish football so it's good that he is coming an watching us and giving his view on things.

Hibernian's Jason Cummings was on the score-sheet for Scotland
Hibernian's Jason Cummings was on the score-sheet for Scotland

"It's quite disappointing that we didn't actually get the victory. We created a lot of chances and did enough to win the game, but at the same time Ukraine might be a wee bit disappointed they didn't go on and win it as well."

Hibernian's Jason Cummings and Hearts' Callum Paterson were on target for Scotland, who were lucky not to lose the game when Denys Bezborodko rounded goalkeeper Jack Hamilton outside the box in added time and had the goal at his mercy.

McKay acknowledged that Reading defender Dominic Hyam "took one for the team" by fouling Bezborodko to prevent a certain goal, therefore receiving a straight red card.

Hull City left-back Andrew Robertson played the full 90 minutes after dropping down from the senior side to help out the Under-21s.

The former Dundee United and Queen's Park man's presence also helped show Scotland's youngsters that the step up can be made.

"You've got to be confident that you can get up or there's probably no point in playing," added McKay.

"The Under-21s is a really good squad and I think a lot of the boys can make the progression up. The likes of Andy Robertson coming back down and playing with us shows you there is that progression."

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