Scotland U21s 'will get improved Ben Doak back for Spain qualifier'

The Liverpool player is back in the pool for Scotland’s opening UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifier against Spain.

Scotland U21s ‘will get improved Ben Doak back for Spain qualifier’ SNS Group

Scotland Under-21 head coach Scot Gemmill believes he will get an improved Ben Doak back in his squad after the wide player used the summer to plan an assault on the Liverpool first team.

The former Celtic player is back in the pool for Scotland’s opening UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifier against Spain on September 11.

The 17-year-old turned down the chance to join up with Gemmill’s squad for two friendlies against Norway in June and has since been in all three of Liverpool’s Premier League matchday squads, coming off the bench against Chelsea.

Gemmill said: “That was his plan, he actually opted not to be with the 21s in the summer because he wanted to prepare for that.

“He listened to his body and knew he needed a significant rest in the summer and he has gone back to Liverpool fully focused, fully fit, stronger, faster, more determined than ever.

“It’s really exciting to see a player have that ambition and mentality and it’s great to see it being rewarded.

“We have full respect for the players in that regard, they are not our players, they choose to play for the national team.

“We try hard to make them aware of the positives that can come from being with the national youth teams.

“There have been players in the past that have used the under-21s as a platform to progress at club level.

“Scott McKenna is one that sticks in the mind. Derek McInnes was Aberdeen manager at the time, he saw him doing well against Holland and a couple of weeks later, he was playing for the first team.

“It can work both ways but of course we have to listen to the players and trust them.”

Gemmill is without Bristol City forward Tommy Conway and Manchester City midfielder Lewis Fiorini through injury but otherwise had a full squad to choose from.

Only four of the squad have played in Scotland’s top flight this season – Alex Lowry for Hearts, Aberdeen’s Ryan Duncan and Dundee pair Lyall Cameron and Josh Mulligan.

“If you focus on the under-21 age group, it definitely is something we are all aware of,” Gemmill said.

“But I would also say there is a big difference between the start and the end of the under-21 cycle.

“If you trace back players like Lewis Ferguson, Ross McCrorie, Allan Campbell, by the end of the cycle there usually is a shift.

“These players by the end of the under-21 cycle will be different animals, much more mature, much stronger, much faster, much more experienced.

“We have to continue to give the opportunity to players and recognise they are all at different stages.”

Squad: Jack Newman (Dundee Utd), Cieran Slicker (Ipswich), Jude Smith (Newcastle); Matthew Anderson (Admira Wacker), Ibane Bowat (TSV Hartberg), Josh Doig (Hellas Verona), Leon King (Rangers), Max Johnston (Sturm Graz), Ben McPherson (Queen’s Park), Liam Morrison (Wigan), Jeremiah Mullen (Leeds), Lewis Neilson (Partick Thistle), Azeem Abdulai (Swansea), Connor Barron and Ryan Duncan (both Aberdeen), Lyall Cameron and Josh Mulligan (both Dundee), Ben Doak (Liverpool), Alex Lowry (Hearts), Archie Meekison (Dundee United), Ben Summers (Dunfermline), Kieron Bowie (Northampton), Dire Mebude (Westerlo).

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