FOR a country that historically sent people all over the globe, there has always been reluctance among Scotland's footballers to embrace that spirit of wanderlust:

the list of Scots who have stepped out of their comfort zones and made a success of playing overseas is short.

Tony Watt may have seemed an unlikely pioneer but the Celtic striker's willingness to embrace a challenge in Belgium with Lierse earned him the respect of many.

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Watt took to Twitter in the week to express disappointment at being left out of the Scotland under-21 squad to face Hungary on Wednesday, but manager Billy Stark said he admired Watt's sense of adventure.

"It's a great thing to go and test yourself in another country with the language barriers and all the rest of it," Stark said: "You need to give Tony credit as he could have taken the soft option as it's well-known that Aberdeen were wanting to take him. He made a mature decision which many players wouldn't have made in his situation so fair play to him.

"This is a friendly game and I know exactly what Tony can do. Football-wise he's not a concern … He's proved it against the highest level of opposition so there's no way he's been written off. It's just better to allow him to progress at Lierse and come the Holland international in May we will see how he's doing."

Stark has been impressed with Watt's impact in Belgium and says he's keeping a close eye on him: "The last time I left him out and told him we would see how he got in Belgium. He was back at Celtic for a few weeks after the Christmas break and the word was he wasn't really enjoying it and wanted to come back.

"But Neil Lennon had a word with him and he's gone back and scored a couple of goals against Mechelen in the local derby and he's also scored against Anderlecht. Now they're talking about extending his contract."

Stark added: "He's now proving what we know, that he's a very talented individual. We are hoping the spell in Belgium matures him and I'm sure Neil will feel the same way. I think it must as he's had to deal with working under another coach who has expressed a bit of unhappiness over him."

Graeme Macpherson