Scotland Under-21 head coach Scot Gemmill is adamant that the future is bright for the national team despite Wednesday’s disappointment against Ukraine.
A 3-1 Hampden play-off defeat ensured Scotland’s long wait to reach a World Cup finals carries on for at least another four years.
Gemmill was involved in the last trip in 1998 and is now helping Steve Clarke by developing players for the future.
The likes of Billy Gilmour, Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson have gone into the full squad when they were still eligible for Gemmill’s team and he believes the emerging talent can ensure he is no longer one of the last players to be part of a Scotland World Cup squad.
Gemmill said: “Of course, it just shows how difficult it is and there is no guarantee.
“I know the progress that Steve feels he has made with the team and they are pushing harder than ever.
“I think there has been real progress and, I know it’s not the World Cup, but a new competition starts next week and the focus will be there again. They have shown they can do it in the past recently with the Euros.
“I think it’s an exciting time for the national team. I think there is a good, real nucleus of players that are doing exceptionally well at club level and you can see it coming together for the full squad.”
Gemmill, whose side face away trips to Belgium and Denmark this month, added: “I understand it’s easy for me to say that because I am involved in the pathway of helping develop these players but I have seen it and I think 15-16 of the players have come through the 21s in the last few years.
“I know how determined these players are, how focused they are, how proud they are to play for Scotland.
“So I definitely feel that the talent is there and that we’re close.”