Craig Levein leads praise for Scotland Under-21s

Scotland Under-21s were 2-1 winners against the Netherlands
Scotland Under-21s stunned the Netherlands in Nijmegen

Scotland coach Craig Levein has pledged to do all he can to help the Under-21 side qualify for the 2013 European Championship.

Senior squad members James Forrest, Danny Wilson and Jordan Rhodes played as Billy Stark's team won 2-1 in the Netherlands on Monday.

With four games played, the Dutch lead the group from Scotland by one point.

"The performance against one of the most respected teams in European football was exceptional," said Levein.

"The team showed great maturity and determination to come back from losing an unfortunate equaliser. To go to Holland and set the tone with the earlier opener showed great character."

Levein pointed out that he works closely with Under-21 manager Stark and Scotland's recently-appointed performance director.

"Having spoken to Billy and Mark Wotte before naming my squad, I am aware of the importance of giving the Under-21s the best chance of qualifying possible," said the national coach.

"It was with this in mind that James Forrest and Danny Wilson were allowed to return to the Under-21s and also why we brought Jordan Rhodes to Cyprus for the experience of an A-squad international.

"Having made his senior debut on Friday, you could also see the confidence and ability in abundance in Nijmegen.

"All three have big international futures ahead of them, but last night was a real team effort.

"We are committed to the performance strategy at the Scottish FA and the style of football and the way in which the Under-21s handled the environment is a credit to Billy and the country.

"I have said often enough that we need to work together to promote the work that Mark is doing within the performance strategy. I believe the result of Billy's Under-21s will be important in maintaining that positive momentum."

Dutchman Wotte travelled to Nijmegen to see Rhodes head Scotland into an early lead and David Wotherspoon shoot home the winner.

"I cannot speak highly enough of the team spirit and the positive philosophy that I believe is key to the performance strategy succeeding," Wotte told the SFA website.

"It was a great result and one that will give the players huge confidence for the rest of the campaign.

"They know there is still work to be done, but they proved themselves against a very accomplished side.

David Wotherspoon and Gregg Wylde
Wotherspoon (left) got the winner for Billy Stark's side

"I am sure Billy and his boys look forward to Holland coming to Scotland in February and I ask that the whole country gets behind the team.

"It was funny being a Dutchman in Holland cheering on Scotland. I left with a smile after that result, which some of the Dutch media noticed."

Looking ahead to the return clash at St Mirren Park next year, Stark is expecting a backlash from the Netherlands.

"They are not used to being beaten and not used to being beaten on their own patch," said the Under-21 manager.

"Sometimes you can dig in and get a result that way, but we went forward and provided a threat.

"We have shown a good consistency of performances over the last couple of years, although we haven't always got the result.

"It is the middle of the campaign and what I said at the beginning is being borne out. Nothing has changed.

"Holland are obvious favourites and Bulgaria and Austria are tough opponents."

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