Scotland boss Steve Clarke has paid tribute to John McGinn ahead of his 50th appearance for his country, saying he is “indebted” for the midfielder’s contribution.
McGinn scored his 14th international goal in the 3-0 win over Ukraine on Wednesday night with the Aston Villa midfielder’s importance to his country more evident than ever at Hampden Park, and now the 27-year-old looks certain to reach his half century against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday night.
Clarke has made him an almost ubiquitous player in recent years – McGinn played every minute of Scotland’s ultimately doomed Euro 2020 campaign and started all but one of their 11 World Cup qualifying games. this year’s tournament in Qatar.
There have been few better players for the Scottish boss during his tenure, and he paid tribute to his trusted vice-captain ahead of this weekend’s Nations League game.
“You just have to look at his contributions, his goalscoring record and his assists,” he said. “He can play in different positions in midfield and brings his own bubbly and bright personality to the group.
“He’s a key member of the team on and off the pitch, and I think he likes it when I push him a bit further to get the chance to make those goals and assists. It works well for us, it worked well for us, and I’m indebted to John for a lot of the good wins we’ve had because he has the goals or the assists.
“Hopefully he can keep going, reach 100 caps and get some goals and assists along the way.”
Scotland leapfrogged over Ukraine and took top spot in their Nations League group after Wednesday’s big win, meaning they are now safe from relegation to the League C and, if Armenia can do them a favor in Saturday’s other game, they could seal their progress to the top. -third of the competition with a win at Hampden this weekend.
Clarke told reporters he didn’t want to think about the possibilities of what this might bring – including more preferential seeding in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw next month – but stressed the fact that his team would win group B1 if they did the double. Ukraine on Tuesday no matter what happens against Ireland.
“I have already talked about being in a position where, by playing Ukraine in Poland, we will have a chance to top the group,” he said. “But at the moment all we have realized is that we cannot be relegated from the squad.
“We have to treat the game against Ireland as well as we treated the game against Ukraine, and make sure that we are going to play them feeling as good about ourselves and looking for what would then be a point for us. qualify. We can get carried away thinking about what we could achieve, but let’s just focus on the next game and take the next step forward.”
McGinn: I have my eyes on the list of top scorers
McGinn’s club career has rarely brought him a significant number of goals, as evidenced by his tally of around one in 10, but for his country it’s a different matter altogether – with a record better than a goal every three games since opening his account. in 2019.
That strike rate has already placed him ninth on Scotland’s all-time goalscoring list, and five more would place him in his country’s top five throughout history – something the Aston man Villa is watching more closely than some of his international colleagues.
“It’s surreal, especially when in my first 15 caps there were no goals or assists,” he said. sky sports. “It’s been a crazy few years, a year that I’ve loved. Everyone loves to score, especially for their country – so I know where I am in the table, I’m a bit of a weirdo when it comes to that, and I’ve got my eyes on the players above.
“I would have laughed at [the idea of playing 50 games] When I started. It’s been a crazy journey, and if I’m selected on Saturday, getting 50 caps would be beyond my wildest dreams. One cap was enough for me, being Scottish, and I grew up watching all of Scotland’s games.
“It will be a great moment personally to lead my country in Robbo’s absence and to achieve an important milestone.”