JOHN Collins thinks that it is vital for Scotland that Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour gets more regular game time at club level during the upcoming campaign – so he can become a regular feature in the international set-up for years to come.

The 20-year-old playmaker was handed his full debut by Steve Clarke in the goalless draw at Wembley on Friday night and was named man of the match before returning a positive test for Covid on Monday morning.

That meant Gilmour had to self-isolate and therefore missed Tuesday night’s crucial clash against Croatia, and Collins believes the talented youngster was conspicuous by his absence.

However, the former Scotland internationalist reckons that the Tartan Army won’t forget Gilmour’s superb display against the Auld Enemy anytime soon – adding that just as Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric ran the show at Hampden, so too did Gilmour catch the eye in London.

Collins said: “The boys played well when we went down to Wembley. Billy Gilmour was the shining light on that pitch and it brought a smile to everyone’s face. He played with such maturity and was getting on the ball – he was our own little Modric at Wembley.

“We’ve got that to look forward to – hopefully Billy can keep on playing. He’s too good to be sitting on a bench; he’s got to be gracing football pitches every Saturday and every Wednesday.

“He was a massive loss against Croatia. He added something to our midfield against England and there were spells where Billy and Callum McGregor were dominating the middle. They got us back in possession, got our foot on the ball, recycled it.

“I think the lesson we have to learn is that we went long too many times against Croatia. Often that happens when you’re 1-0 down and the temptation is to get it forward quick and that’s fine if you’re getting some joy but too often against Croatia we were kicking it straight at the centre-halves.

“And when you lose it, they make you chase it: that was the difference. They were keeping it for 20 passes and making us work. We got tired because we put so much into the England game.”

John Collins was speaking to the Herald and Times Sport in conjunction with William Hill.