In honour of the Scotland Under 21 side being ruthlessly demolished, the latest edition of Magnificent Seven looks at the best young Scottish players around…
7. Danny Wilson (Defender, Hearts)
It seems like Danny Wilson has been around forever despite only being 21. His 3 year spell at Liverpool went horribly wrong and he has the chance to show why he was signed by the English giants at such a young age. A big and strong defender, Wilson is surprisingly quick across the ground and is more than comfortable playing out from the back which is why he was deployed as a left back by Hearts on occasion. He was made club captain this summer by the club which shows the high regard in which they hold him. A future Scotland defensive regular.
6. Stuart Armstrong (Midfielder, Dundee United)
Midfielder Armstrong is quickly making a name for himself in Scotland with his impressive performances in the middle of the park for Dundee United. Last season was truly a breakout season for Armstrong as he missed only 2 games in the league, was SPL Young Player of the Month in February and was nominated for the SPFA Young Player of the Year award as well as establishing himself as a regular in the national under 21 side. A clever player, Armstrong is very good technically and has great passing abilities that are beginning to make him a key player for United. It surely won’t be long until he follows former teammates Johnny Russell and David Goodwillie in making the move south.
5. Grant Hanley (Defender, Blackburn)
At just 21, centre back Hanley has already established himself as a rock in defence for both club and country. Thrown in the deep end at Blackburn under Steve Kean, Hanley impressed despite Rovers’ relegation even bagging the winner in a game at Old Trafford. Tough and uncompromising, Hanley is not what you would call cultured but provides a solid and dependable base on which a team can build. Without doubt the future of the Scottish defence.
4. Islam Feruz (Striker, Chelsea)
Feruz already has more tales to tell than most his age. Born in Somalia, Feruz is a naturalized Scot and is already the youngest player to represent the country at U21 level. Discovered and nurtured by Celtic (who kept him and his family in the country), his departure south was controversial with Chelsea playing only a small amount of compensation due to a “flaw in the legal system”. Feruz is a tiny human (he stands just 5′ 4”) but is lightning quick and possesses a deadly eye for goal. He tasted first team action on Chelsea’s Asian Tour this summer and it is only a matter of time before he is rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mata and Hazard on a more regular basis.
3. Callum Paterson (Midfielder, Hearts)
Showing incredible maturity beyond his years, Paterson burst onto the scene last season with his performances in the Europa League against Liverpool. Capable of playing in multiple positions, Paterson is already a crucial player to Hearts with his versatility being his greatest asset to the financially stricken club. But we can’t sell Paterson short. He is not just merely a utility man but an excellent footballer as well. He has a good turn of speed and is technically very good as well. Perhaps his best trait is that he plays without any fear whatsoever and is not fazed by reputations. He is a future international and a player who could thrive at the top level if given the chance.
2. Gary Mackay-Steven (Winger, Dundee United)
A former Liverpool youth player, Mackay-Steven has shot to prominence thanks to regular appearances on the Showboat segment of TV show Soccer AM. There is much more to his game than flashy tricks (although he has many of those). An old fashioned winger, Mackay-Steven has lightning speed and looks to beat players, get to the byline and deliver the ball into the area. His impressive performances have led to a recent call up to the Scotland squad and it might not be long until he is back in English football.
1. Leigh Griffiths (Striker, Wolves)
The SPL Player of the Year last year is finally getting his big chance at Wolves and he looks set to take it. Quick, tricky and hard working, Griffiths is a natural goalscorer. He is capable of banging them in from anywhere and is a deadly set piece taker. He provides something unique to the Scottish frontline that can make a huge difference in the future. If Griffiths continues his performances on from last season then there is no reason why he won’t be playing at a higher level soon.
That is the latest edition of Magnificent Seven. If you agree/disagree or have any list suggestions then let me know here or on Twitter.