Max Johnston revealed the bravery of fellow young Scots to make the move abroad helped his decision to try his hand at Austrian club Sturm Graz.

When deciding upon his next step after leaving Motherwell last summer, the 20-year-old full-back considered players such as midfielder Lewis Ferguson and his move to Bologna the previous season and defender Aaron Hickey’s two-year spell at the Italian club which earned him a move to Premier League Brentford, with both players now regulars in Steve Clarke’s senior squads.

Fellow Scotland Under-21 defender Josh Doig is also at Italian club Sassuolo.

Johnston returned to his homeland this week for the young Scots’ Euro 2025 qualifier against Kazakhstan on Thursday and is also looking forward to an exciting finale in the Austrian Bundesliga as his club side try to catch RB Salzburg.

He said: “You saw how well Aaron Hickey has done (abroad) and now he is playing in the Premier League and Lewis Ferguson is flying just now.

“So you see boys who have been brave enough to take the step and move away and that obviously encouraged me to do it as well.

“The city is beautiful, Graz is amazing. Moving away is something I always wanted to do and just see the world and I’ve been really lucky to move to such an amazing place.

“I had a chat with the manager (Christian Ilzer) and he really sold it to me.

“Once I went over, I understood how big the club is, I really enjoy the style of play and the fan base is amazing.

“The fans are unbelievable. They travel everywhere, they are singing for the whole 90 minutes, if you concede a goal they sing louder so obviously that’s amazing.

“But the whole culture, how the club is run, is really professional and the manager is really professional, really big on keeping the mind-set right and of course, we are chasing Salzburg now.

“I’m still loving it. I’m starting to get into the team a bit more now, which is a lot more enjoyable for me.

“I’m still young, only 20 years old. I’ve got so much to learn. I feel I am improving which is what I’m looking to do and I am enjoying it.”

Johnston was added to the full Scotland squad for the first time in October 2023 and he is also taking encouragement from the achievement of Clarke’s side, who are going to this summer’s Euros in Germany.

For their part, Scotland Under-21s are in second place behind Spain in Group B at the midway point in qualification for the 2025 Euros in Slovakia.

He said: “We’ve had a few good results but that doesn’t count for anything yet. We’ve got to make sure we get another good result on Thursday.

“It would definitely be amazing for us to qualify but you don’t get too far ahead, just take each game as it comes and just make sure we’re getting the right results.

“Now, of course, you see the first team doing so well and you can use that as motivation for us to say, we can do that as well.”