Scott McKenna believes Scotland Under-21s boss Scot Gemmill’s homework can help his side come through another tough examination when they face England on Friday night.
The Aberdeen defender credits Gemmill’s attention to detail for last month’s shock 2-0 win over Holland in their opening Euro 2019 qualifier.
Now ahead of their showdown with the Auld Enemy at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, McKenna believes his boss has again got all the bases covered after drawing up his game plan for Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions line-up.
He told RedTV: “When you look at England’s squad, they have got a lot of players who are playing at a high level in the Premier League. The England Under-20 side won the World Cup in the summer and many of those players are in this squad.
“But there is no reason why, if we play like we did against the Dutch, that we can’t get something from the game.
“The strikers in their squad include Tammy Abraham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Solanke. They are top players, but as a defender you can’t be worrying about that.
“For the Dutch game, we met up on the Thursday even though the game was on the following Tuesday. We spent a lot of that time doing video analysis and working on the detail of how we would set up at corners, goal-kicks and even throw-ins. The coach got it spot-on that night.
Scott McKenna is backing Scotland Under-21s to beat their England counterparts
“I don’t think Holland enjoyed the game one bit as everything we worked on in training came off perfectly and we ran out deserved winners. We stopped them playing out from the back. We forced them to play a game they didn’t want to play and they struggled to implement a plan B.
“We played some good football on the night and it is certainly up there as one of the best games of my career so far.
“It is only the second time I have worked with Scot Gemmill. In terms of tactics and his instructions and explanations of what he wanted us to do, it was absolutely spot-on. The boys have a lot of respect for him.”
Friday’s clash will be the first meeting of the nations at under-21 level since 2013, when Scotland suffered a painful 6-0 drubbing at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.
Jonjo Shelvey scores England Under-21s’ fifth goal against Scotland in 2013
But McKenna cannot see history repeating itself on Teesside.
“The last time we played England, I know we were well beaten,” he said. “But the last time we played Holland before last month’s game, it was also a very high score so already this group have improved on our past record.
“Holland and England have already drawn 1-1 in this group as well, so we can go into the game with confidence on the back of our last result.”
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