STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

McLean: Reaching Euros would be career highlight for players

The Scotland midfielder says there's momentum behind the team as they face Serbia.

McLean: Reaching Euros would be career highlight for players SNS Group

Scotland midfielder Kenny McLean believes that reaching the European Championships by beating Serbia would the high point of most of the squad’s careers.

The national team are one game away from reaching a major tournament for the first time since 1998 but have to win in Serbia in Thursday night’s play-off.

McLean said that there was respect for the opposition, who have some big-name players, but there’s no fear as the team work to continue a strong run of results in a game where everything is on the line.

The Norwich City star said: “I think it’ll be the highlight in most of the boys’ careers if we can get back to the good old days when we got to major tournaments. We’ve got the squad, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve shown that over the last wee while.

“It’s just down to us to go and put in the performance that we know can take us there and give everyone something to look forward to.

“I think there’s a bit of optimism about the place because we’re winning and that’s what everyone wants to see us do. I think that momentum keeps carrying on and goes from one camp to the next like has been happening recently.”

McLean revealed his own excitement about the game but also admitted to disappointment that the Tartan Army weren’t able to witness the current run in person.

“It should excite you coming into these games against top players and if it doesn’t then you’re in the wrong place,” he said. “Of course, there’s pressure on the game and a lot riding on it but you need to enjoy these moments. They don’t come around often.

“The disappointing thing about now is people not being there, and the way we won the Israel game would have been more special with fans there. Even going to this game we would have taken thousands of fans and it’s disappointing for them to miss out and for us not to have them there.

“But we know the bigger picture and we can take them somewhere even more special.”

McLean showed composure to hit the winning penalty in the shootout against Israel in the semi-final at Hampden but he revealed that he thinks the recent upturn in form is partly attributable to the man whose job is to stop shots.

“I think the results we’ve been getting and the way we’ve been playing, a lot of that comes down to David Marshall at the back since he came back into the squad,” he said. “He really gives you that confidence at the back and I’m sure that the defenders will tell you that more than me.

“If you build your foundations on a good defence, good goalkeeper, clean sheets then it gives the front players the freedom to express themselves a bit more and that’s what’s been happening.

“That was just gathering and we find ourselves in a good place and with a good opportunity.”