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Houston ready to fill in after Gemmill tests positive for Covid

Peter Houston will be in the dugout when Scotland Under-21s face Turkey.

Peter Houston ready to fill in after Scot Gemmill tests positive for Covid SNS Group

Peter Houston will step into the breach after Scotland Under-21 boss Scot Gemmill tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of the game against Turkey on Friday night.

Gemmill was unable to meet up with the squad ahead of the match at Tynecastle and it is touch and go as to whether he will be able to travel to Kazakhstan for the second of the Euro 2023 qualifying double-header next Tuesday.

Assistant manager Houston said: “It was last Sunday when I got the call from Scot to say what his issue was and he is feeling much better today.

“But these things take a process, I have been through it twice myself and I have been a close contact of someone else.

“Knowing Scot he will be desperate to be involved but If I’m being honest, he will start targeting going to Kazakhstan on Sunday and I think he will be ready to travel because that will be over a week.

“He will test himself tomorrow and Friday but I don’t expect him to be involved for the Turkey match.

“I have been with the under-21s almost four years and I know the preparation steps that Scot and I and the backroom staff have taken, we are in a set way with processes so we will just get on regardless whether he is here for Turkey, which is very doubtful, but certainly for Kazakhstan he will be back in charge.”

The former Dundee United and Falkirk boss, who was assistant to Scotland manager Craig Levein, is comfortable with a return to the hot seat.

He said: “A lot of the team is probably picking itself because of what we have in mind.

“There is a couple of positions we are still watching in training with regards what decisions are going to be made.

“But he will go on my advice with regards how I think the players have trained.

“So he is leaving it entirely up to me, if I want to play a particular player because I have seen him doing well in training that’s the way it will go.

“Scot will probably be watching the game on television but he won’t be making contact via phones or anything like that.

“He respects me with regards my previous (experience), I have done this before, I have been in situations before where you have to make quick decisions, big decisions and substitutions, so the experience I have is now being used.

“Normally Scot makes all the decisions when he is the head coach and I just feed stuff into his ear and he will come and discuss substitutions with me.

“But I will have people on the bench I will discuss that with rather than going direct to Scot.”

Scotland are third in Group I with four points, five behind Denmark and 14 behind leaders Belgium who have won all six of their fixtures.

Houston said: “The group has been unkind to us in some ways.

“Belgium are actually second seeds but have 18 points because of their class, Denmark are always there or thereabouts in the last four of this competition on a regular basis and are number one seeds.

“But we want to have as strong a finish as we possibly can.

“Denmark are probably favourites to be second. But is very important that young players come into the squad and develop, progression into the A squad is the most important thing.”