Steve Clarke says best is yet to come from Scotland hero John McGinn

Steve Clarke reckons the best is yet to come from Scotland hero John McGinn after watching him extend his incredible international scoring streak.

The Aston Villa midfielder struck twice either side of a Steven Naismith header to ensure Scotland brought the curtain down on their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan.

The 25-year-old now has seven goals in his last six appearances for the Scots – but boss Clarke believes he can yet mature into an even better player.

Clarke said: “John is on a fantastic run of form. He has been great for Aston Villa for the last couple of seasons and he is starting to bring it onto the international stage.

Scotland v Kazakhstan – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
Scotland’s Steven Naismith celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Kazakhstan (Steve Welsh/PA)

“It’s very important to remember he is still in the early stages of his international career. The more games you play at this level, the better you become, the more experience you get and the better the team will become.

“You look at someone like Steven Naismith who is a great example to them all. He plays with great experience at this level and it was great to see him get his goal as well.

“When you’ve got any player in goalscoring form that’s good for any team.

“John is the man scoring the goals now and hopefully we’ll get one or two more that can to that as well.

“We’ve found a good position for John. He’s playing it very well, him and Steven Naismith are developing a decent understanding and as well as the goals they give us a good early press and the desire to meet the opposition high up the pitch which helps us as well.”

Scotland have had a year to forget and it looked like 2019 was going to end on yet another downer when Baktiyor Zainutdinov smashed the Kazakhs ahead.

Scotland v Kazakhstan – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
Kazakhstan’s Alexandr Marochkin and Scotland’s John McGinn battle for the ball (Steve Welsh/PA)

But McGinn’s deflected free-kick just after the interval drew them level before Naismith bundled the ball home on 63 minutes to nudge the hosts ahead.

Former St Mirren and Hibs ace McGinn completed the win – the Scots’ third in a row – in stoppage time to ensure Clarke’s side can now take some vital momentum into March’s Nations League play-offs.

Scotland – who will have home advantage for the single-leg semi-final – will discover who from Bulgaria, Hungary, Israel and Romania they will face when the draw is made on Friday.

Norway or Serbia will await the winner but Clarke believes the feel-good factor is starting to return.

Scotland v Kazakhstan – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
Scotland’s John McGinn and Kazakhstan’s Serhiy Maliy contest a ball (Steve Welsh/PA)

“Steven Naismith deserved his goal for his attitude and his positivity around the place,” he said.

“I’ve spoken a lot about positivity. I know I’ve got it in the dressing room and I know I’ve got it with my staff.

“I’m now hoping it’s going to spread to the supporters. I think they will have a little bit of a better feeling tonight than they did a couple of months ago.

“And I’m trying to spread it to you guys in the media because it’s really important.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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