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By Alison McConnell

Scotland under-21 manager Scot Gemmill believes that the forthcoming under-21 European Championship tie away to Spain is an opportunity for his side to grasp.

On paper it is a challenging trip for Gemmeil’s side as they kick off their campaign to qualify for the 2025 under-21 European Championships.

Spain are five times winners of the tournament with Scotland facing a daunting journey to Jaen as they play their first competitive game since June 2022.

“There is no question in among the new generation of Spain players there will be future superstars,” he said. “If we think about the past couple of times we have played against top teams, de Jong was playing for the Netherlands, Phil Foden was playing for England, there are always superstars playing but hopefully we have some superstars in our ranks playing.”

One of those potential superstars could be Liverpool’s Ben Doak. The 17-year-old has made himself part or Jurgen Klopp’s squad with some notable performances in pre-season this summer, performances that affirmed his call to withdraw from international duty earlier this summer.

“He opted not to be with the 21s in the summer because he wanted to prepare for that [Liverpool pre-season],” said Gemmill. “He listened to his body and knew that he needed a significant rest in the summer and he has gone back to Liverpool fully focused and fully fit, strong, faster and more determined than ever. I am really excited to see have a player have that ambition and mentality.

“He is definitely a very exciting player. I have been fortunate to work some very strong players at this age level. The player always has to prove it. There have been plenty of players talked about over the years and it is exciting to do that but the player has to go and prove it.

“For me the big part of the jigsaw is the mentality and attitude of the player. Billy Gilmour showed he had the real maturity and hunger to live life properly off the pitch and not be distracted and keep pushing and he is continuing to do that. Ben has put himself now in a position where he really has got an opportunity to go and play at the highest level so everyone has to do everything they can to support him and help him on that pathway.”

Gemmill’s squad is boosted by the returns of Doak, Josh Doig and Max Johnston who all missed out on the last camp in June.

Alex Lowry also returns following a recent loan move to Hearts, while Jude Smith and Archie Meekison are back in for their first call-ups of 2023.

There are some absentees though, with Tommy Conway, Lewis Fiorini and Calvin Ramsay all missing through injury.

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