Pain and disappointment were oozing out of the Scotland squad as they trooped through the mixed zone, a few visibly perturbed, following the painful defeat to Hungary on Sunday. And while a clearly hurting Scott McKenna wasn’t a barrel of laughs either, he still feels there are positives to be pulled from the ashes of another failed campaign.

He revealed that after the 1-0 loss in Stuttgart, the squad had discussed remaining united and the manager, Steve Clarke, stressed that in their future the possibility of reaching international tournaments remains bright. While some players will come in and others will go, the sense that Scotland are a busted flush amid the crushing disappointment of defeat was not one McKenna can get on board with.

“I think, over the next few years, there might be a few new faces added into the squad,” he said. “That’s the natural evolution of an international squad, but the lads were sitting in the dressing room after determined to stick together. We believe what the manager said after the game - that we can continue to get to these major tournaments.

“I think we are certainly a more experienced team than at the last Euros. The circumstances of the game was a challenge. The first game was always going to be very difficult and we probably let ourselves down. The Switzerland game I thought was a proper Scotland performance. Especially on the back of what happened in Munich. I thought we really stood up to a top team and kept ourselves in the tournament. Against Hungary we maybe just needed to take take one extra step or take a chance at the right moment, but it wasn’t to be.”

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Most agree that Scotland have a talented, if imbalanced squad. There was a sense before the tournament began that Clarke had the tools for success. On the pitch, this was clearly a case of over-optimism given the paucity of performances, unless the answer is psychological?

“I don’t think so,” said McKenna. “I think that’s a hard thing to answer. It has been such a long time since we got to tournaments and two back to back was never going to just happen overnight. But no Scotland team has ever got past this stage so I really don’t know how to answer that.

“The manager gives us his trust and picks the eleven he wants to go out and play. Ultimately we’ve not picked up enough points to take us to the next stage of the tournament so it’s on us players.

“Disappointment is the over-riding emotion just now. It’s a difficult one to try and process and it’s probably going to take a few days, weeks, months. I think we all knew how big an opportunity we had to try and take it one step further than any team has before. But ultimately we fell short of that.

“We didn’t create as many chances as we would have liked. There was a lot of emotion on the night and a lot to play for. Maybe we looked a bit nervy at times, a bit safe. But we need to pick ourselves up from that in the weeks and months ahead and try to learn because I do believe that this squad can get to more tournaments in the future. We need to learn from these type of opportunities.’”

While there has already been intense criticism over results and performances, even the most ardent of Clarke’s critics would have to admit that he’s had one hand tied behind his back with injuries. Nathan Patterson and Aaron Hickey’s problems left the cupboard bare on the right flank while arguably Serie A’s best midfielder Lewis Ferguson surely would have added power and guile to the midfield. And while Lyndon Dykes has his critics, there’s no doubt he occupies defenders in a way that frees up space for others.

“Yeah, we lost some big players at big moments,” McKenna admits. “Even losing a couple of lads before the tournament even started was a massive blow. Then, losing Kieran the other night. He is such an inspirational player for the national team and that was a massive disappointment. His absence gave me an opportunity to play, but there is absolutely no denying how big an impact he has on this team.”

McKenna will now regroup over the summer as his agents beaver away on Bosman contract. The 27-year-old, who spent the latter part of last season on loan at FC Copenhagen, leaves Premier League Nottingham Forrest on a free after a fall out with the club. He has been heavily linked with a move to boyhood heroes Celtic but it appears nothing is signed and sealed.

He said: "It’s a case of going away, trying to recover. It’s been a long season for a few reasons. Obviously starting the season at Forest then being frozen out was something I’d never experienced and that was testing at times. Then going to Copenhagen and getting to play for the last six months has been stressful. So it’s time go and relax, put the feet up for a few weeks and see what develops."