With Steve Clark expected to shuffle his pack this evening against Luxembourg to offer game time for everyone in the squad, there is the hint that the armband could go to Scott McTominay.  

The likelihood is that there could be a rest for Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney ahead of next week’s curtain-raiser against the Czech Republic. Should it transpire that the Manchester United midfielder is tasked with the responsibility of leading out his country there will be no sense of feeling fazed about the weight on his shoulders.  Already having taken the captaincy for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this term in an FA Cup tie against Watford, McTominay is keen to embrace responsibility rather than shrink from it. 

“It’s not a problem - that’s the way football is,” said the 24-year-old who has gone through the Old Trafford academy structure since the age of five. The education gained there for what is expected mentally at the very top level was evident as McTominay spoke about the psychological demands that go hand-in-hand with exposure to the very top level.  “You have got to thrive on the pressure, it’s part and parcel of the game.  

“You don’t play football to have easy games and expect to win 5-0, you want to have intense games and have pressure on your shoulders. That’s no problem, I’m looking forward to it and it’s exciting for sure. I don’t know where having confidence comes from, it can come from a lot of different things. 

“It can come from your upbringing, the way you were brought up by your family. You can’t look at it as too much pressure, once it becomes too much pressure you’d might as well stop.  You might not enjoy it in that case and I have always enjoyed it, whether it’s a cup game with Man Utd, a reserve game or a game with Scotland. Football is the same, you have to put pressure on yourself and enjoy being under pressure.” 


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As a Scottish player not just plying his trade but being brought up in England, McTominay needs no lessons on how dismissive Gareth Southgate’s squad will be about the challenge presented by Scotland. Given the squad at Southgate’s disposal there are pressures of a different kind on a nation that will be hyped up to go and put themselves among the front runners to win it. 

“I can’t speak on behalf of other teams and the way they might think about us,” said McTominay with the eloquence of a diplomat.  “But what I can say is I want us to come and play, we are not here to make up the numbers - I have said that before.  

“I stand by that comment, I want us to go and play to our potential - hopefully we can do that. There has been a lot of banter, a lot of little digs and stuff.  But that’s the best part of it, whenever we play against the boys from the club it’s top.  

“I have played with them for years now, Luke Shaw, Marcus [Rashford], Harry Maguire and was I brought up with Dean Henderson through school. It will be intense, for sure, but I am looking forward to it. I’m sure they will want to get one over on me!”  

If McTominay’s ease at coping with pressure offers an insight into his background, as does his approach to his profession. His attention to detail, the fact he persevered as his body took time to catch up with his ability and his constant pressure on himself to improve and adapt all point to the trajectory of his career staying on an upward curve. 

“I am a firm believer in myself and in that respect I think there’s more to come, most definitely,” he said.  “There were numerous things I wanted to improve, I say that to myself because I know what I need to improve on.  

“At the start of the season I always write down notes and objectives, putting in little details about what I need to improve. That’s the same with the club, we go through things and where we want to get to. I will keep them under my belt and hopefully keep moving in the right direction.  


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“I have been wanting to improve and training with the coaches at my club and with Scotland.  That is of real importance to me, I was a late developer in terms of turning into a man - I was probably eighteen.  

“So technically I have probably only had three years being a fully grown man so it’s about training hard and doing the right things in the gym.  When you look at it like that, it’s important for me to keep going.”  

Scotland will get the best out of McTominay in the central pastures rather than utilising him in a defensive setting but the player himself won’t be precious about where he is asked to put in a shift.

“When you play right side of a three, stepping in you can still drive with the ball and do a lot of the things you do at club level,” he said. “If you watch closely at Man Utd we drop into a three regularly and that’s part of my role in the team, to drop out there and then get us up the pitch high into the opposition’s half.  

“The roles and responsibilities are very similar, if the manager wants me to play centre back or centre midfield it’s not a problem for me.”