Scott McTominay insists Scotland duty is never a chore as Manchester United star ‘hated’ watching from home


He should have been one of the main characters when Scotland booked their place in the World Cup play-offs back in November.

Instead, Scott McTominay was left feeling like he’d been trapped in the wrong movie after being reduced to a small-screen watching brief as Steve Clarke’s men got the results which kept their Qatar dream on track.

A throat infection picked up during the national team’s Spanish training camp in La Finca ahead of the double header with Moldova and Denmark meant the Manchester United ace was forced to fly home and watch on TV as the Scots booked their home semi-final slot with back -to-back victories.

In McTominay’s absence, understudy John Souttar emerged as a new leading man for Clarke as he put three years of injury torment behind him to down the Danes with his first international goal.

That fairytale ending made a tough watch for McTominay a little more bearable but the 25-year-old is determined he’ll be back to play a starring role himself this week against Poland.

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He said: “That week in Spain I was in my hotel room. For four or five days I was struggling with an illness which was quite bad to be fair.

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“I couldn’t get out of bed. When I did manage to get home and was watching the games, I hated it.

“Even if I miss one game of club football or for Scotland against Denmark, it’s hard to watch.

“You just want the game to be over and for us to have won.

“You just want to get back playing yourself as there’s nothing worse. You feel like you are in the wrong place sat at home watching when all the boys are at Hampden.

“It’s so good to be back.”

Victory over the Moldovans was the result Scotland needed to qualify for the play-offs but a sparkling display against Denmark as Che Adams’ strike finished off the Group F winners was the champagne moment that ensured Clarke’s side would have home advantage in the semi showdown with Ukraine.

As much as McTominay would have loved to have been out there himself, at least he got to drink in as good a display as he can remember watching from his armchair.

“One hundred percent,” he said in agreement. “I’d a couple of family members in and we said that we were playing so, so well and that we just needed to maintain it throughout the second half.

“And we did. We kept it up, we kept the intensity. The level we were playing at was really high. There weren’t many mistakes.

John Souttar celebrates against Denmark

“Everyone was so tuned into what we had to do. It was an amazing moment for John Souttar as well.”

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There’s no escaping this week’s action has been overshadowed by events in Ukraine.

The Scots’ frustration over the postponement of their huge clash against Andriy Shevchenko’s team pales against the pain and suffering the brave citizens of that nation are having to go through in the face of Russia’s vile invasion.

But at least tonight’s hastily arranged friendly clash with the Poles will hopefully have some kind of positive impact for the residents of Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and the other towns under relentless, illegal bombardment, with ticket sales helping to raise funds for UNICEF’s emergency appeal.

On a football basis, it may not be the game Scotland were hoping to play but McTominay reckons the showdown with Poland can still prove beneficial as they look to extend a six-game winning run.

“That’s what football’s all about, keep on winning games,” said the Old Trafford midfielder. “And we’ve been unbeaten for six now and that’s positive.

“Obviously that filters through the camp in terms of the manager and the way he’s conducted himself, the staff and the players.

“Everybody’s bought into everything Steve Clarke’s done since he came in as manager. Everyone’s enjoying it, it’s a happy camp to be in.

“Obviously, for myself, it’s always a bonus coming away and trying to help the team.”

McTominay doesn’t know if he’ll get the chance to test himself against Bayern Munich ace Robert Lewandowski but he’d relish the chance to test himself against a man crowned by FIFA as the best player in the world for the past two years.

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His only previous encounter with the Poland striker was a 35-minute pre-season affair in Germany back in 2018 but McTominay plans to soak up everything he can from the 33-year-old if their paths cross at Hampden.

He said: “I’ve never played against him properly before.

“I think the only time was pre-season against Bayern Munich away from home, Jose Mourinho was the manager.

“But obviously, his goal record speaks for itself. He’s a phenomenal footballer. The way he looks after his body, it’s something I aspire to be like when I’m a bit older.

“You get what you put into football.

“He obviously works extremely hard at his game and looks after himself. He deserves every credit and all the success in the world for that.

“Whenever you are playing for Scotland you want to play against the best.

“That’s the only way you find out if you are any good or not.

“You don’t get any better by playing against not as good a caliber of player.

“For us, there will be boys who’ve never played against someone like Robert Lewandowski – myself included.

“It’s important that we look at him as a threat but if he plays it means you need full concentration and if he doesn’t then it’s full concentration on someone else.

“It doesn’t matter if he’s a big name or is just a young kid who’s coming up. You pay your respects to everybody you play against – 100 per cent.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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