Four reasons to be cheerful for Scotland

Scotland manager Alex McLeish
McLeish knows there is a lot of hard work ahead as he seeks to find the right mix for Scotland

Alex McLeish began his second stint as Scotland manager with Friday's 1-0 friendly defeat to Coast Rica at Hampden.

An experimental side could not deliver a winning performance but BBC Scotland commentator Rob Maclean saw enough to suggest better times are on the horizon.

Calm and composed McKenna

Scott McKenna made his Scotland bow at Hampden
The imposing Scott McKenna adds to Scotland's left-sided options in central defence

A spectacular season of progress for Scott McKenna continues with the 21-year-old Aberdeen defender confirming his international credentials.

Of the new arrivals on the Scotland scene against Costa Rica, he was the standout performer.

Remarkable, when you think he hadn't played Premiership football until a few months ago.

And McKenna's temperament shone through in the first half at Hampden, staying calm and composed as experienced players around him struggled with the Scotland system.

He got better as the game went on and the team performance improved. His emergence goes down as a big plus for the national team.

Shame he's left-footed - we've got a defence full of those - but we have to be happy that McKenna's here to stay as a Scotland player.

Robertson is the real deal

The strong running of Andy Robertson is a positive attacking outlet for Scotland
The strong running of Andy Robertson is a positive attacking outlet for Scotland

Talking of left-sided defenders, we have one of the best in Andy Robertson.

The former Queen's Park and Dundee United player had to be patient on arrival at Liverpool but, since breaking into the starting eleven, he's gone to another level.

Even when Scotland were struggling to impose themselves on Friday night, Robertson still managed to make some of those trademark thrusting runs in behind the Costa Rica defence.

In a fully-functioning national team, he's a huge positive and the good news is, having just turned 24, he's going to get even better.

Robertson is a class act who'll worry any opposition.

Celtic core remains essential

Celtic duo Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor made a second-half impact at Hampden
Celtic duo Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor made a second-half impact at Hampden

Celtic will continue to supply half the Scotland team, so it's crazy to make a sweeping assessment about a starting line-up which didn't feature any of their players.

The introduction of Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor off the bench early in the second half was like the flicking of a switch and a previously sluggish showing moved up a couple of gears.

Their club-mate Leigh Griffiths will be welcomed back into the international fold with open arms once he's got over his injury problems. We badly need a striking solution.

Kieran Tierney and James Forrest are stick-on starters as well, while goalkeeper Craig Gordon will be available again soon.

That's a six-strong Celtic contingent and, for me, all would have to start in a full-strength Scotland team.

Straight talking from McLeish

Scotland started with four new caps against Costa Rica on Friday
Scotland started with four new caps against Costa Rica on Friday

And finally... Alex McLeish isn't kidding himself about the challenge he faces at the start of his second spell in the hot seat and I'm happy with that.

There was a grim realism and an underlying anger about his reaction to a largely underwhelming Scotland performance in his first game back in charge.

I liked Big Eck's blunt assessment of a half-hearted first-half performance and his reluctance to gloss over his team's inadequacies.

There's much work to be done, and he knows it, to find the right team blend and to have the coaching staff and players all singing from the same songsheet.

We all share that 2020 vision of qualifying for the next European Championship finals and, after a shaky start to his second coming, McLeish is reacquainting himself with that instant pressure to deliver which comes hand-in-hand with the Scotland job.

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