As the Scotland under-21 manager relaxed at a table inside Hampden to discuss the players he had chosen for a 2015 European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Luxembourg on March 25, the conversation settled on just two of them. Stark had brought along a dossier, the top sheet comprising a print out of a pitch with his squad lined up in formation, but all he really needed was a Post-it note.
There is a habit of gazing at a squad list and trying to see stars of the future; individuals who can lighten a view of Scottish football which has become pockmarked by black holes. Among the brightest to emerge are two players whose eyes are still adjusting in the under-21 set-up. Islam Feruz, a boy wonder at Chelsea, and Ryan Fraser, the Bournemouth teenager, are the youngest and least experienced outfield players – Fraser is still to earn his first cap – but their names appear prominent among a group which also accommodates returns for Kilmarnock's Rory McKenzie and Stuart Bannigan of Partick Thistle, who each earned their inaugural caps in a friendly with Greece last month.
Part of that is down to the noise they made as they left the Scottish game, particularly Feruz, whose decision to leave Celtic in September 2011 caused much disquiet at Parkhead. Neil Lennon claiming the youngster had been "badly advised" and that football had not been "the main issue" behind his departure for Stamford Bridge. His reputation has continued to grow within Hampden, though, and Stark speaks positively about the player the 17-year-old is for Scotland rather than the one he could have been for his old club.
"When you are looking at young players you already have a view on them before they even come on your radar and are just hoping that they progress the right way," said the under-21 manager, whose squad will also face the Netherlands, Slovakia and Georgia in the qualifiers. "Islam has done that in a footballing sense. Islam, we have to remember, is a very young boy in lots of senses. But he doesn't seem to show that when he is on the pitch; he is built like a man and is physically capable of playing under-21 football."
The attention afforded to the Chelsea forward can often leave others nearer the sidelines. That is not an unfamiliar position to Fraser, the 19-year-old having made enough of an impact from wide areas at Aberdeen to earn a January move to Bournemouth. It was a switch which caused consternation at Pittodrie – not least as the club only got a £400,000 fee – but Stark found value in the threat he will add to his team. "We have James Forrest and Chris Burke who are performing well for the big team," he said. "So there are some heartening signs there in terms of producing that type of player."