THERE is no doubt that Scotland’s game against Spain on Tuesday night was a worthwhile exercise. A win was denied by an injury-time goal from the world’s 14th-ranked team, but there were many positives in the second half especially.

Nevertheless, a big question needs to be asked. Why were Scotland playing a friendly in Falkirk (no offence to the excellent hosts) when almost all of our potential Euro 2017 rivals were engaged in competitive mini-tournaments?

For many years, Scotland have spent the generous March international window playing in the Cyprus Cup, a 12-team tournament we organised along with England and Holland on the Mediterranean island. In every aspect it was ideal. Four tough games in 10 days interspersed with warm-weather training at the squad’s Larnaca base.

Euro probables Italy and Austria were among the teams in Cyprus again this year.

Our Group 1 rivals Iceland were in Portugal for the Algarve Cup. They, too, played four games and trained in the sun.

Euro hosts Holland played Sweden, Norway and Switzerland to determine the last Uefa place at the Rio Olympics.

England travelled to the United States for a new prestigious mini-tournament also involving Germany and France.

Scotland, by contrast, played 90 minutes in freezing Falkirk and spent the rest of the time training at Ainslie Park. The only other likely Euro 2017 qualifier to make such poor use of the March break was Romania. Yes, Romania.

In June and September, Scotland face a double-header with Iceland, with the outcome deciding who wins the Euro qualifying group. Compare and contrast the two nations’ preparations.

According to the Scottish FA, the decision not to send the squad to Cyprus was taken by performance director Brian McClair. It wasn’t, the SFA insist, to save money. McClair pulled the trip because five of the strongest teams usually in Cyprus, including England and Holland, couldn’t make it due to their other engagements.

McClair took the view it was better to stay at home and play Spain – even though they have an inferior Fifa ranking to Italy, who were in Cyprus. He’s the man in charge, but in my opinion, his decision was short-sighted and wrong.

Never mind the obvious benefits of warm-weather training. Even more pertinently, Scotland have young fringe players who need game time to establish whether they can make the leap from club to international football.

Four matches in Cyprus, where Wales and Ireland were also involved, would have provided the perfect opportunity. These are players who, assuming we qualify, could make a real difference when they are older and stronger in Holland next summer.

Was that really worth sacrificing for a cold night in Falkirk?