TOMMY WILSON, the former Scotland youth coach, wants the Scottish Football Association to follow the example set by Euro 2016 qualifying rivals Germany and Poland by using immigration to their advantage.

Gordon Strachan’s senior side will face the world champions in a crucial Group D qualifier in Glasgow in two weeks and then the Poles a month later, two nations which have had success supplementing their squads with players from immigrant backgrounds.

Scotland has had modest success introducing such players to the international set up so far, with Ikechi Anya the only member of Strachan’s squad with an immigrant background. The popular winger’s father is Nigerian, while his mother was born in Romania. Somalia-born forward Islam Feruz has also been a high-profile addition to Scotland youth squads, although the teenager has since turned his back on his adopted homeland.

Wilson, who previously held top youth coaching roles within the national set up as well as with Rangers, is now academy director at Major League Soccer side Philadelphia Union and has been charged with helping to rear world-class talent in the club’s youth system, with Union operating in a catchment area of 11 million.

The 53-year-old is eager for Scotland’s national teams to expand their own pool of players by drawing from the country’s immigrant communities. “The only thing I would say is that the number of players playing in [the United States] compared to Scotland is incredible,” said Wilson, who helped lead Scotland’s Under-19s to the final of the European Championships in 2006. “Scotland is a small nation, but you can look at other small nations and see a difference. You need to get the grass-roots right and get the culture right.

“We’re not really good at expanding that player base the way other countries are. If you look at Germany, Poland, Sweden and the French national team, look at the demography of those teams, then you see the base they are taking players from. We are not effective in that way.

“It is maybe more of a cultural thing. In our demography we have a lot of people from places like Pakistan, for example, but I know from when I was the Scottish Sports Association that a lot of them didn’t play because they had to leave early to work in shops or restaurants. We don’t seem to have the same benefits as other countries. I know there are negatives which come with immigration but in elite sports there can be a benefit.”

Wilson was heralded as “one of the world's leading experts in youth soccer development” when he was appointed in Philadelphia two years ago. His proficiency brought an invitation earlier this month to take charge of an East Coast Select team in a youth tournament in Los Angeles involving Bayern Munich, while the Scot has also spent time studying the coaching practices at the academies of Schalke and Borussia Dortmund recently.

He intends to use those visits to further refine the youth coaching offered in Philadelphia. “The level in Germany was excellent. Excellent. They just work hard at it and at each level they play best versus best every time. That encourages and brings the best out of the young players,” Wilson added.

“We have about 70 kids in school so they do a proper session in the morning – nine until 10 – and then the kids come in for the academy session at four. Some of the kids in our academy system are doing two sessions a day, 10 sessions a week. I think that MLS has a lot of potential.”