MALKY Mackay may or may not be the man in charge when Scotland play in the first UEFA Nations League in September next year or when the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign gets underway the following March.

The SFA is currently searching for a permanent replacement for Gordon Strachan and there is no guarantee that Mackay will, despite the fact he has refused to rule himself out of the running for the position, be their preferred candidate.

He has no doubts, however, that some of the uncapped and inexperienced players who he has called up for the friendly international against the Netherlands at Pittodrie this evening will remain involved with the national team going forward even if he does not.

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The SFA Performance Director, who has taken charge of his country on a temporary basis following the departure of Strachan after an unsuccessful bid to reach the Russia 2018 finals last month, has been criticised for his squad selection this week.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland this week, Kris Boyd, the former Scotland striker, described it as a “laughing stock”.

Mackay, though, believes that is hugely disrespectful to the likes of Ryan Christie, Kenny McLean and Graeme Shinnie of Aberdeen, Callum McGregor of Celtic, Paul Hanlon of Hibernian and Ryan Jack or Rangers. He is confident they can remain part of the set-up going forward if they perform well this evening.

“They deserve respect, they deserve that little bit of respect,” he said. “There is a possible future for them as a Scotland player going into a new campaign. If some players are nearing the end of their international careers three or four games in to the Euro 2020 campaign then we have got a big problem.

“We have got to try and make sure there is a pathway that allows players the chance to come through. Over the next three or four games players can come in and we can try things out because it’s not actually going to matter when it comes to qualification for Euro 2020.

“Come Euro 2020 there are extra places available as we all know and we obviously want to start qualifying again. That being the case, we have got to allow players the chance to bed in to international football if we think they have got a chance.

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“Now, the guys who are picked in that squad are all playing at the best level in Scotland, some play in England. They are all there for a reason. So you give the player a chance to actually become a Scotland player. With some players it is gradual.”

Mackay added: “I think the freshness in the squad helps us move on. It’s full of young players, full of players who haven’t played for their country before. When they are playing against Holland they are going to make sure they’re giving the best they can to themselves.

“There will be a good atmosphere here, a good crowd, and really what I’m trying to frame with the guys is that it’s a start of, not friendlies, but the start of four games before next September for the Euro 2020s.

“It’s a chance for them to stake their claim, grab the jersey and go on and win 50 caps. I think that’s a fairly easy sell as far as the players are concerned.”

Mackay, the former Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic manager, is attempting to halt the steady decline of standards in Scottish football in his full-time role as SFA Performance Director.

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He believes there are reasons to be optimistic going forward and was clearly exasperated by the negative reaction to the naming of players like Christie, Hanlon, Jack, McLean and Shinnie in certain quarters.

He is optimistic that supporters will leave Pittodrie this evening feeling upbeat about the future of the national team after the meeting with the Dutch.

“I hope that they can see talent, can see why they have been picked for Scotland, can see there is a framework of boys who can go and play a long time for Scotland and kick us on into the next campaign,” he said.

“It is not all doom and gloom. It’s why the group was picked – it was picked to show there is young talent in Scotland coming through. We have to give them the best chance.

“Plenty people constantly knock Scottish football into the gutter and eventually there might be a point when it never recovers – we might be half way there already. There are enough people criticising. I see talent in Scotland. But everyone needs a hand unless you are exceptional.”