Stevie Campbell has talked up two of his Dundee United proteges for Euro 2020 selection.
The ex-head of youth at Tannadice helped develop Ryan Gauld and John Souttar as youngsters.
Campbell believes Gauld has already done enough to deserve a call-up for Scotland’s pre-tournament friendlies against the Netherlands and Luxembourg thanks to a season of consistent excellence in Portugal’s top-flight.
Ryan Gauld has been awarded the Primeira Liga Goal of the Month award for his stunning flick against Santa Clara. 🏴🇵🇹
— Byron Hutchison (@ByronHutchison) March 11, 2021
And now that the Farense star’s close friend Souttar has returned from injury with Hearts, he could yet figure in Steve Clarke’s summer plans as well.
The Tynecastle centre-back, who has been capped six times, made his comeback from a ruptured Achilles against Alloa at the weekend and was a man of the match contender in Robbie Neilson’s backline.
With only three games left until the Jam Tarts’ season is over, Souttar doesn’t have long to catch the national coach’s eye again.
But even if he has run out of time for the European Championships, Campbell is certain that a Scotland recall will be the 24-year-old’s next season.
“It’s brilliant to see Soapy back on the pitch,” he said. “Absolutely fantastic.
“I know injuries are part of the game but could anybody have been more unlucky than John? You really couldn’t be.
“I’d definitely give him an outside chance of making a late run for the Euros.
“He’s such a top professional that it hasn’t surprised me he’s come back and hit the ground running straight away.
“He’ll be as fit as he’s ever been.
“If he can get a run of games for Hearts then why not bring him back in for the friendlies before the tournament? Steve Clarke can have a look for himself.”
The chopping and changing at right-sided centre-half may work in Souttar’s favour. Jack Hendry was used in the position for the first two games of the recent World Cup qualifying triple-header, before Scott McTominay was dropped back in there for the final one.
In my opinion there’s nobody better in Scotland at coming out of defence with the ball than John Souttar.
“McTominay is a class player,” said Campbell. “He’s a Rolls Royce.
“Ideally you’d want him in the middle of midfield where he plays for Manchester United.
“In my opinion there’s nobody better in Scotland at coming out of defence with the ball than John Souttar.
“And when I think back to his days at United, you can see the improvements he’s made on the defending side of his game as well.
“People used to give him stick for that – especially at United – but not anymore.
“If he doesn’t make the squad, I’m sure you’ll see him back as a Scotland regular in the future.”
Gauld couldn’t have done anymore to stake a Scotland claim, according to Campbell, who also mentored Stuart Armstrong at the United academy.
He has been Farense’s stand-out performer on their return to the Primeira Liga and is being linked with a summer move either to a bigger club in Portugal or La Liga in Spain.
“Ryan has to be knocking on the door for Scotland,” said Campbell. “The way he’s ripping it up in Portugal’s top league is really impressive.
“He’s absolutely flying.
“Gauldy’s the type of player who, after you see him up-close, you’ll know what the fuss is all about. Hopefully Steve Clarke selects him for the friendlies that are getting played near where he lives.
“His position has changed since he started out at United, probably as a result of developing his game abroad.
“That’s helped make him what he is now – a top player in Primeira Liga.
“He’s got more variety to his game and is producing regular goals and assists.
“We’ve got a lot of midfielders who are playing at the top level in England but, for me, he’s a different type to all of them, including John Fleck.
“People will say I’m biased because I worked with the lads like Ryan, Stuart and John but I’m a Scotland fan and I want to see us do well in the summer. Ryan is the type of player who could change a game for us in the blink of an eye.”