What we learned from Scotland’s summer tour

Scotland concluded their mini-tour of the Americas with a 1-0 defeat to Mexico on Saturday night.

Alex McLeish gave seven players their debuts in the side which lost 2-0 to Peru in Lima on Tuesday night while goalkeepers Jon McLaughlin and Scott Bain made their first appearance for the national team in the Azteca Stadium.

Here, FP looks at five things we learned from the post-season challenge matches.

1. Plenty of positives, despite results

McLeish left out of a clutch of regulars from his initial squad and then was hit by call-offs. It was a makeshift and hugely inexperienced squad which flew out from Glasgow to face two sides preparing for the World Cup. They may well have returned on the wrong end of a couple of defeats but in both games – in which nine players in total made their international debuts – the Scots kept at it and showed good spirit.

2. Celtic players will continue to dominate the squad

Scott Bain is now a full Scotland international
Scott Bain is now a full Scotland international (Jane Barlow/PA)

Due to both a long, hard season for the treble-winning Hoops and injuries, McLeish left out Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, James Forrest, Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong. However, new Parkhead winger Lewis Morgan and goalkeeper Bain became full internationals during the trip and defender Jack Hendry featured against Mexico. Celtic will continue to well represented in the national team for the forthcoming years.

3. McLeish searching for goals at international level

Matt Phillips celebrates scoring for Scotland against Hungary
Matt Phillips celebrates scoring for Scotland against Hungary (Tim Goode/PA)

The absence of Griffiths leaves Scotland short on goal threat and there were blanks drawn against Peru and Mexico. There were only seven international goals in the original squad named by McLeish. Matt Phillips, with one goal in his first 11 international matches, started against Peru and again worked hard without threatening. Oli McBurnie started against Mexico for his fourth cap and came close to a goal with a header which struck the post. The situation needs addressing for the forthcoming Nations League games.

4. Lewis Stevenson will be a one-cap wonder

Lewis Stevenson featured against Peru before leaving the group
Lewis Stevenson featured against Peru before leaving the group (Alan Rennie/PA)

Hibernian left-back Stevenson made his debut in the Estadio Nacional in Peru before leaving the camp for a holiday he had already booked before the call-up. With Tierney, Andrew Robertson and Barry Douglas all vying for the same spot, it is unlikely the 30-year-old will be seen again in dark blue. He will cherish the memory and few would grudge a great Easter Road servant his cap.

5. Ultimately, the games should not have been organised

A Scotland fan in Mexico City ahead of the second match of the mini-tour
A Scotland fan in Mexico City ahead of the second match of the mini-tour (Ronnie Esplin/PA)

Both post-season matches were scheduled under former Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan before McLeish took over as national team boss for the second time in February. The former Scotland defender tried to play on the positives and he got a response from his players. However, with so many regulars omitted from the original squad which was further weakened by call-offs, the negativity surrounding the games increased, especially in Scotland.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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