John McGinn believes debutant Ryan Porteous “shut a few critics up” by helping Scotland win promotion to the top tier of the Nations League with a goalless draw against Ukraine.
With Steve Clarke missing eight players from his original squad through injury and suspension – there was also a virus in the camp – there was an opportunity for the 23-year-old Hibernian defender in the final Group B1 fixture in Krakow on Tuesday night.
Porteous turned in a terrific performance as the pool leaders, following home wins over Ukraine and Republic of Ireland, kept Oleksandr Petrakov’s side at bay to earn the point required for promotion to League A, a place among the second seeds for the Euro 2024 qualifiers and a guaranteed play-off spot to qualify for that tournament should they need it.
Stand-in skipper McGinn said: “It feels amazing.
“We were up against it, we had illness, we had injuries and the travel and three games in six days, so a lot of circumstances were going against us, but we stood tall and showed good character in the team.
“It shows you the strength in depth we have, we have top players around the country whether that is in the Premier League or in Scotland.
“We like to talk our game down, we like to talk our own players down, but we need to try to get away from that and try and support every player that comes and plays for the national team.
“There were a few boos when Ryan’s name was read out the other night, which isn’t acceptable and I was delighted for him.
“He has proved a lot of doubters wrong and, if it wasn’t for him and Jack Hendry, we might not be in pot two for the Euro draw and in League A.
“So delighted for Ryan to shut a few critics up and hopefully moving forward we can get behind everyone no matter who they play for or how they are as a player.”
After losing to Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final at Hampden Park in June, McGinn was delighted to see Scotland bounce back with a successful Nations League campaign which also boosts their chances of getting to the next Euros in Germany.
The Aston Villa midfielder said: “We messed up the last time, we were aware of that.
“We knew the prizes at stake.
“We knew that not only for our generation but the teams moving forward, under-16s, under-17s, under-19s, it gives them ambition to play against the best players in Europe.
“The task now is to stay there, stay in that division and give ourselves the best possible chance to improve.
“We are improving all the time and hopefully it sets us up for Germany.”