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Scotland’s men need to follow lead of women’s team – Scott McKenna

Scotland Women played in front of a record crowd at Hampden Park in their last game before the World Cup.

Scotland Women enjoyed a memorable day at Hampden Park (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Scotland Women enjoyed a memorable day at Hampden Park (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scott McKenna admits Scotland need to follow their female counterparts’ lead and attract the crowds back to Hampden.

But the Aberdeen defender is confident the positivity from the club scene allied with the optimism over the appointment of Steve Clarke can help them rediscover the feelgood factor.

Scotland Women brought in a record crowd when they beat Jamaica at the national stadium last week in their final World Cup warm-up.

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Scotland Women played in front of a record home crowd against Jamaica (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A big turnout for the men’s team for Saturday’s visit of Cyprus looked unlikely after Scotland lost their opening Euro 2020 qualifier in Kazakhstan but Clarke’s appointment as head coach has lifted the Tartan Army.

The squad was further boosted by seeing skipper Andy Robertson lift the Champions League on Saturday and others arrived at the camp fresh from club success, including the four Kilmarnock players who helped Clarke lead the Ayrshire side back into Europe.

McKenna, whose Aberdeen team also qualified for the Europa League, said: “The women’s team got 18,500 the other day so it’s up to us now to try and get a crowd through the door and put in a good performance and bring that feelgood factor to the men’s team as well.

“It’s all very positive – the new manager, a good few boys in the squad have had great ends to the season.

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Andy Robertson, left, is a Champions League winner (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We’re all delighted Andy has won the Champions League, John McGinn and Kenny McLean have been promoted to the Premier League and all the Celtic boys have just done a treble treble.

“So there’s a lot of positivity here and hopefully we can carry that on for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully we can get that winning mentality into the Scotland squad.”

McKenna shared in the overwhelming majority view that the Scottish Football Association got the selection of Alex Mcleish’s successor spot-on.

“I was delighted,” the 22-year-old said. “We had all seen what he had done with Kilmarnock and we hope he can bring that to us. Kilmarnock punched above their weight and hopefully we can do that too.

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Steve Clarke led Kilmarnock into Europe (Ian Rutherford/PA)

“They were very organised and difficult to break down, and if one thing wasn’t working you had to try a couple of different things, whether it was moving it down the sides.

“But they were always hard to break down. There were very few goals in the games between Kilmarnock and Aberdeen this year and obviously with the season they had his tactics clearly worked for them.

“Obviously keeping clean sheets is a great platform to try and do well in campaigns and with that implemented hopefully we can do that in the games coming up.”

McKenna has been pleasantly surprised by how ready the squad were when they began training on Monday and he again noticed a step-up in the sessions.

“Everyone has been a lot sharper than I expected,” the centre-back said.

“Some boys have been off for three or four weeks but training has been sharp and good.

“Obviously when you come away with Scotland it’s a lot more about ball retention than it maybe is at Aberdeen.

“The boys round about you don’t accept you not giving them the ball. When you play a long ball they get on to you and say, ‘give me it’.

“That’s probably something that’s different to the Scottish league, where it’s a bit more direct. It’s about looking after the ball here.”

PA

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