I'll always be there if I'm fit - Hibs' John McGinn savours Scotland chances

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland in Peru
Hibs' John McGinn on room-mates, annoying team-mates and video games
International friendly: Peru v Scotland
Venue: Estadio Nacional de Lima, Peru Date: Wednesday, 30 May Kick-off: 02:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland & BBC Sport Scotland website

Scotland and Hibernian's John McGinn says the honour of playing for his country will always trump a desire to get over the effects of a hard season.

McGinn, 23, aims to add to his seven Scotland caps on the end-of-season tour to Peru and Mexico.

However, other players were rested or withdrew.

"Every time I get the opportunity to play for Scotland, it's a massive honour, something I've dreamed about doing since I was young," McGinn said.

"So, every chance I get to pull on the jersey, no matter where it is, I'll always be there if I'm fit."

McGinn played 43 domestic games as well as four internationals over the course of season 2017-18 but is relishing the prospect of more game time before a well-earned rest.

"Obviously, at the end of the season, you've got bumps and bruises and boys will have reason for pulling out," he explained.

"But, on a personal level, it'll be the first time I'll hopefully have played in South America, which is priceless.

"The same with going to Mexico, playing at altitude - I've never done it before and it can only help us improve and playing against two teams going to the World Cup can only help us get to that level, which is what everyone in the country wants."

Scotland players training
Scotland players trained in Lima on Saturday

McGinn finds himself in the "slightly strange" position of being the joint-third most capped player in the squad at the ripe old age of 23 as he looks to cement a starting berth in the national team.

But how do descriptions of him as the natural successor to the now-retired former captain, Scott Brown, sit with this still-developing box-to-box midfielder?

"I think he's a different player to myself - we both have a hunger to win, a desire to get about the pitch and help our team-mates and that's something I think we're similar in," he acknowledged.

"At the same time, I've got different qualities to what he can bring and hopefully I can show that.

"Scott was different class with me when I initially joined the Scotland set-up. Obviously I was extremely nervous, very anxious to join in, but he took me under his wing a bit and said 'you deserve to be here, go and express yourself, don't try to be anyone you're not, you're a unique style and just do that' and that's what I've managed to do."

Hibs connections in Scotland squad

Alex McLeish will hand out several new caps over the two games, with McGinn's Hibs team-mate, Dylan McGeouch, one of those set to represent the national team for the first time - and the possibility of reproducing their partnership in the centre of the park is one that appeals to McGinn.

"Absolutely. Even in training today, he was always looking out to see where I was and that's brilliant for me," he enthused.

"It's pretty natural playing alongside him now. This season, we've managed to see the best of Dylan and a cap will be long overdue for him.

John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch
McGinn and McGeouch could rekindle their club partnership at international level

"He's been different class for us this season and he's a player I love playing beside.

"If the manager decides to put us together, I think we'll both enjoy it and put on a good performance."

A perhaps more surprising call-up to the international squad was Lewis Stevenson.

At 30, the Hibs left-back could have been forgiven for assuming his chances of a cap were gone, but the absence of Celtic's Kieran Tierney, Liverpool's Andrew Robertson and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Barry Douglas means opportunity could knock.

"He doesn't say much," McGinn said. "He's delighted. There's no-one in Scottish football deserves it more.

"He's such a hard-working guy, so humble and he's honoured to be here.

"He's such an under-rated player and it's great to see him get the recognition he deserves."

Will McGinn and Stevenson still be team-mates come the start of the new season? McGinn has just a year left on his current deal and, unless a new one can be agreed, this will be the last opportunity for Hibs to command a transfer fee for their impressive driving force.

"There'll obviously be discussions" he said.

"There's been a lot of speculation, but I'm sure it's something the club, my family and agent will sit down and decide about.

"But, at this moment in time, I'm just concentrating on Scotland, trying to play the best I can and, whether I'm at Hibs for another few games or for the whole season, I would be delighted to be there."

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