HIS British record £440,000 transfer from Celtic to Liverpool in 1977 might have helped Sir Kenny Dalglish to elevate his career to a higher level, enjoy great success both in England and Europe and develop into one of the best players in world football.

And Scotland may have benefitted greatly from him being a member of the outstanding Anfield team of that era in the forthcoming years and qualified for the World Cup finals in 1978, 1982 and 1986.

Yet, Sir Kenny believes that shunning a move down south in order to remain at Parkhead won’t prevent James Forrest and Callum McGregor, who have both signed long-term deals with the treble treble winners this month, from progressing further as players in the seasons ahead.


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He also has no doubts the national team can flourish and end their interminable wait to reach a major tournament due to the involvement of that duo, as well as their club mate Ryan Christie and Ryan Jack over at Rangers, in the Europa League.

Sir Kenny has been delighted to see Celtic reach the knockout rounds of that competition with two group games to spare and pleased that Rangers are also doing well in their section and closing in on a place in the last 32.

The three-time European Cup winner reckons playing, and beating, foreign teams like Cluj, Feyenoord, Lazio, and Porto will only help Christie, Forrest, McGregor and Jack when they feature for Scotland.

“Celtic don’t play at a lower level,” he said. “Rangers play at a high level. Not every player has the aspiration to go and play in England. Some are happy to play in Scotland. They have as good a chance of doing well at either Celtic or Rangers than they would have down south. I don’t know why whenever anyone does well they want to sell them.”

Dalglish certainly feels that national manager Clarke, who was his assistant during his second spell in charge of Liverpool, won’t be concerned where a player plies his trade.

The selection of Lawrence Shankland, the striker who is on the books at Championship club Dundee United, for the Russia and San Marino matches last month underlined to Dalglish that Clarke will give anyone who is on form a call up regardless.

The man who won a record 102 caps for his country and scored a joint record 30 goals was impressed with Shankland’s displays in those Group I matches and has predicted his promotion to the national team will inspire hopefuls across the country.

“It doesn’t matter to Stevie where they are playing,” he said. “Lawrence Shankland came in against San Marino and did well. It was the perfect game for him as he’s a goal scorer. He only scored one, but he was in the box every time the ball came in. You are going to score goals if you get into the box.


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“It may be going to the extremes to say it was only San Marino, but it doesn’t matter. It showed Stevie can pick players to play in a position and to play in a game that suits him. That suited the boy and I thought he did well.

“It doesn’t mean to say he’ll play in the next game, but it gives everyone else an incentive to say there might be a place there for them as well.”

Sir Kenny played at a time when every major English club had a healthy contingent of Scottish players and he has been buoyed to see a growing number of his countrymen involved in the Premier League this season.

John Fleck and Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United), John McGinn (Aston Villa) and Kenny McLean (Norwich City) have joined Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), Scott McTominay (Manchester United) and Stuart Armstrong (Southampton).

“The better the Scottish players do down south then the better chance we have of moving forward as a national side,” he said. “The boys now are playing at a higher level than what they have been for a few years.

“We have more Scottish boys, like John Fleck who’s playing for Sheffield United, playing in the Premier League. So there are a few Scottish boys down south who can play.

“John McGinn does brilliantly down there. He played in their promotion winning team and has come into the Premier League this season and done very well.


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“The players are getting better and playing at a higher level and the higher level they are at then the better chance we have of getting a decent team together.”

Sir Kenny, who was handed his Scotland debut by Tommy Docherty in a Euro ’72 qualifier against Belgium at Hampden in 1971 when he was just 20, would also like to see promising youngsters like Mikey Johnston at Celtic and Billy Gilmour at Chelsea get their chance with Scotland in the months ahead.

“There are a few kids floating about,” he said. “The boy Billy Gilmour is pretty close at Chelsea. There is Mikey Johnston at Celtic. It doesn’t do any harm getting the young ones through.”