Scotland: Scott Brown praised for influence on debutants

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland
Scotland's mutual appreciation society
International friendly: Scotland v Denmark
Date: Tuesday 29, March Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; updates on BBC Sport website

Captain Scott Brown has been a "terrific influence" on players looking to make their Scotland debuts, according to coach Gordon Strachan.

The 30-year-old Celtic midfielder will win his 50th cap if he features in a friendly against Denmark on Tuesday, when six players could earn first caps.

"He's not only been a good footballer, but he's been a good help to young players now," said Strachan.

"He's been a big part of my career over the last 10 years."

Brown was signed from Hibernian by the Scotland coach when he was in charge of Celtic and also made him captain while Darren Fletcher was absent through prolonged illness.

"He is good with people, he likes being with people, he makes everyone welcome here and then he trains to the maximum," said Strachan.

"He is a leader and Darren Fletcher is too."

Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean won his first cap after starting in Thursday's 1-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic in Prague.

Tony Watt, the Charlton Athletic striker currently on loan with Blackburn Rovers, and Birmingham City full-back Paul Caddis also made their Scotland debuts from the bench.

On Tuesday, it could be the turn of Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney and Nottingham Forest midfielder Oliver Burke to earn their first senior caps at the age of 18.

Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney in training with Scotland
Celtic's Kieran Tierney has recovered from injury to join Scotland in training

Dundee goalkeeper Scott Bain, Leeds United defender Liam Cooper, Hibs midfielder John McGinn and Brighton winger Jamie Murphy are also possible debutants.

Burke has only made six starts and come off the bench 13 times for his English Championship club.

However, Strachan said: "I've seen him a right few times now and seen his debut and he impressed and I've got to say he has impressed everyone here so far.

"If you are playing in a successful team, you are ready for international level.

"It doesn't matter to me if you are Gordon Greer at 34/35, or Oliver Burke at 18."

Tierney has ousted Honduras international Emilio Izaguirre from Celtic's starting line-up this season.

"He has played European football against top sides, so that's been a benefit to him and to Celtic and to us," said Strachan.

"He did not look out of place in the games I seen him and he's got a good way about him - determined and he's got a bit of humility about him.

"I think it's helped that Scott Brown's been round him and people like that."

Oliver Burke in training with Scotland
Nottingham Forest midfielder Oliver Burke could make his Scotland debut at the age of 18

Brown, who thinks Tierney's progress this season "has been exceptional", was looking forward to matching the feat of Alan Hutton, the Aston Villa right-back having earned his 50th cap on Thursday.

"It feels like I'm getting old," said the Scotland captain. "I was told that Kieran was eight years old when I had my first international cap."

Brown praised Strachan for his role in his own progress when asked how he had changed since that debut against United States in 2005.

"I was a bit of a hothead from Hibs at the time and now I'm a hothead at Celtic, so not too much," he joked.

"He has put a lot of faith in me and I've got a lot to thank him for over my career, for signing me and making me a better player since signing from Hibs.

"He understands the game way more than anyone I have ever worked with."

Scotland squad to face Denmark

Goalkeepers: Scott Bain (Dundee), Craig Gordon (Celtic)

Defenders: Ikechi Anya (Watford), Paul Caddis (Birmingham City), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Gordon Greer (Brighton), Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Celtic), Steven Whittaker (Norwich City)

Midfielders: Liam Bridcutt (Leeds United, on loan from Sunderland), Scott Brown (Celtic), Oliver Burke (Nottingham Forest), James Forrest (Celtic), Shaun Maloney (Hull City), John McGinn (Hibernian), Jamie Murphy (Brighton), Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth)

Forwards: Steven Fletcher (Marseille, on loan from Sunderland), Leigh Griffiths (Celtic), Chris Martin (Derby County)

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