Ricky Sbragia, the Scotland under-19s coach, last night insisted his youngsters had shown clear signs of improvement after a heartbreaking defeat by England.

The young Scots lost two late goals at Burton on Trent to cancel out John Souttar's opening goal after the break. However, their performance would still suggest that significant progress has been made from a year ago, when Scotland were hammered by England at the same Elite Group stage in Belgium.

Defeat last night means that Scotland cannot qualify but Sbragia maintained that his talented group of kids should still be proud of their efforts. "They gave us their lot and that's all I can ask for," he said. "England are a talented team with a lot of pace and power [and] play at a good level.

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"We thought luck might have been on our side and we might have held on, but you know they are going to get chances. The lads did everything we asked of them and they were very committed.

"It was a big improvement from last year because they absolutely battered us in Belgium. I thought our lads were super. The boys are all really tired and disappointed, but they have lost to an exceptional team.

"We just asked the boys to go out and play and they did that. I thought we dealt with them quite well, but you know they are going to get in behind you at some stage and we had a wee bit of luck when they hit the woodwork a few times. I could have done with our goal coming in the 89th minute, but there you go."