Noel Blake, the England coach, believes the gap between the Auld Enemy rivals is closing rapidl.

The Scots nearly stole what would have been a famous win in Burton on Trent in the Euro Elite Group after leading for 76 minutes on Monday night through John Souttar's header. But a late collapse saw the hosts prevail.

A year ago in Belgium at the same stage, Scotland were lucky to escape with a 3-0 defeat, and former Dundee defender Blake was impressed by the Scots.

Loading article content

He said: "The gap is definitely closing. This is the best Scotland side we've played at Under-19 level. I played against a team managed by Billy Stark, then Ricky Sbragia's team last year and this is a far, far better Scotland side. I like their philosophy. They want to play football. Last year's team was the same, but this team had better individuals and carried more of a goal threat."

Sam Gallagher and Matt Targett chose England despite previously featuring for Scotland's youth teams but Blake pointed out: "It wasn't a case of taking them off Scotland - they're English! They made the choice."