GORDON Strachan’s admirable willingness to field some promising youngsters in the friendlies against the Czech Republic and Denmark was welcomed by those supporters who feel Scotland have long needed an injection of fresh blood.

Kenny McLean (24), Tony Watt (22), John McGinn (20), Kieran Tierney and Oliver Burke (both 18) all made their international debuts in the 1-0 wins in Prague a week ago and Glasgow on Tuesday. What is more, they showed they were not out of their depth against decent opposition.

It is not inconceivable some of them will be involved, possibly even from the start, when the national team get their Russia 2018 qualifying campaign underway with a game against Malta in Valletta in September.

It is one thing, though, handing a kid some game time in a meaningless match on which nothing is riding in front of a sparse crowd. It is quite another to do so when the hopes and dreams of a country’s population hinge on victory and they are performing to a full house.

Strachan, whose assessment of his side’s showing in both matches was brutally honest, yesterday stressed that, despite his eagerness to reduce the average age of his squad, advancing years will not be a barrier to future involvement.

Yes, Scotland had the oldest squad of any side in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. But their manager is well aware that he must pick the best side available to him irrespective of how old they are if he is to secure a place at the World Cup finals in two years’ time.

So, thirtysomethings Scott Brown, Darren Fletcher, Gordon Greer, Craig Gordon, Shaun Maloney, David Marshall, Russell Martin, Allan McGregor, Charlie Mulgrew are all very much part of his plans. Elsewhere, Steven Fletcher and James Morrison, who are both 29, and Ikechi Anya and Robert Snodgrass, at 28, are all certain to feature going forward.

Strachan famously played on at club level with Coventry City until he was 40 after embracing a strict diet and fitness regimen which included eating bananas, porridge and seaweed tablets. He is, then, not about to discard those who have turned 30.

“The kids will only get their chance of they’re good enough,” he said. “But I’m not going to just fill up the squad with them. Don’t get too excited for them.

“Gordon Greer at 34 was as outstanding as them on Tuesday night. Craig Gordon at 33 was as outstanding as them. But certainly what we saw on Tuesday night and last Thursday night was three bonuses. Over in Prague we also had Snoddy back. That’s wonderful.

“I don’t want our players to start calling themselves old at 30. That’s not old, that’s not old for top players. When you’re 29 and you have a bad game then people just say you’ve had a bad game. When you hit 30 people say your legs have gone. That’s the perception.

“Listen, it’s about fitness levels and I see no reason why people can’t maintain their fitness levels as midfield players until they’re 35 and 36. We have Gordon Greer at 34. We had Davie Weir here at whatever age.

“It shouldn’t be a barrier, as long as you’re training to a maximum. Me? I did it because we didn’t have anybody else to play in the Coventry team. But fitness was the be-all and end-all. If Tony Pullis is picking Darren at West Brom and Ronny Deila is picking Scott at Celtic – and they’re playing at the highest level – then I’ll pick them.”

However, Strachan was impressed with both Hibs midfielder McGinn, who won the Man of the Match award and stayed on the park for the full 90 minutes, and Celtic left back Tierney, who hardly put a foot wrong in the 45 minutes he was involved.

“Mentally they know they can handle it, that’s no problem now,” he said. “They have to keep the physical side now. But they know that when you play against top, top players what is required. It’s about knowing where you have to push yourself to get a maximum.

“But they could do worse that watch Shaun Maloney and ask him ‘how did you get here at 34 and still be as strong?’ They don’t need to ask fitness coaches or all those gurus or nutritionists. You ask the people who have been there.

“They’ll then find out they need to train harder than everybody else. They’ll be told ‘I put more into the game than anybody,’ that’s it. I’ve seen players drink gallons of water and be rotten. I mean, seriously.

“But John and Kieran have humility as much as anything. I watched John with the Under-21s and saw it. I watched the ones who want to get better, the ones with humility but a bit of drive at the same time.

“Oliver Burke too. He’s a quiet lad but what a determination he’s got. When he first walked in too I said: ‘He can’t be Scottish when he’s that size!’”