Scotland: Malky Mackay says new faces have huge chance to stake a claim

Malky Mackay and Eric Black
Malky Mackay has brought in Eric Black to assist him for the match against Netherlands

Malky Mackay has urged the new faces in the Scotland squad to make themselves first-team regulars ahead of the Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

The interim national manager has called eight uncapped players into his squad for Thursday's friendly with Netherlands at Pittodrie.

"They want to come and play for Scotland and show that passion to go and get 50 caps for their country," Mackay told BBC Scotland.

"That's the challenge I give them."

The eight players hoping to earn their first cap on Thursday at Pittodrie are Graeme Shinnie and Ryan Christie of Aberdeen, Nottingham Forest's Jason Cummings, Rangers' Ryan Jack, Paul Hanlon of Hibernian, Celtic's Callum McGregor, Millwall's Jordan Archer and Liam Cooper of Leeds.

The Scots parted company with previous manager Gordon Strachan in the wake of their failure to reach the play-offs for the World Cup in Russia, with Euro 2020 now the next opportunity for the national side to end their major tournament exile.

Jason Cummings, John McGinn and Kenny McLean
Jason Cummings, John McGinn and Kenny McLean are among the players hoping to become first picks for Scotland

"They (new players) get their chance going forward," added Mackay, who is the Scottish FA's performance director.

"We have a longer lead-up time going into Euro 2020 now, there will be three or four friendlies before we play that first qualifier. With that being the case, that gives some of the younger players a chance to stake their claims to be Scotland players.

"I looked at the squad that was available to me, I looked at some of the players that have been doing well recently. There's three in from Aberdeen - Kenny McLean, Graeme Shinnie and Ryan Christie have all been playing well and deserve a chance. Paul Hanlon, captain of Hibs, is doing very well and the team is doing very well."

Scotland remain in the hunt for a new manager and Mackay, former boss of Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan, once again refused to rule himself out of the running.

"This was asked the other day and the answer I gave is absolutely what any of us would give if a Scottish manager is asked to take charge of their country," added Mackay. "There would be very few who would say no to that.

"I have a really good and important job at the moment, but for the next month, I'm delighted to be involved.

"I've been asked to be the interim manager so that's as far as that goes. I have my day job, which is fundamentally a very important job going forward in Scotland.

"Right now it's about preparing the group for next week and a lot goes into that."

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