English Premier League star Andy Robertson has hailed Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna.
The duo helped Scotland top their Nations League group with victories over Albania and Israel.
Those wins have secured a play-off spot – should they need it – for the Dark Blues as they attempt to qualify for the 2020 European Championships.
Liverpool’s Robertson and Don McKenna teamed up on the left side of Scotland’s defence to good effect as the national team kept a clean sheet in beating Albania 4-0 and then seeing off Israel 3-2 at Hampden.
Robertson has enjoyed an incredible rise. After being released by Celtic as a youngster he went part-time with Queen’s Park. A move to Dundee United followed and after a season at Tannadice, the 24-year-old moved on to Hull City in the summer of 2014, before joining Liverpool in the summer of last year.
Since the move to Anfield Robertson has established himself as Jurgen Klopp’s first choice left-back.
McKenna’s rise has been similarly rapid. After breaking into the Aberdeen team in September 2017, he has become a star performer for the Reds and captained Scotland against Mexico this summer.
Tuesday’s game against Israel was McKenna’s eighth Scots cap and Robertson has been hugely impressed with how he has performed at international level.
He said: “Scott is a big part of the squad now and he’s stepped up to that.
“He’s still inexperienced and has been thrown into the deep end, but he’s shown he’s one of the leaders on the pitch, so credit to him.
“Scott was brilliant, he led the defence from the centre of the park, where he can see everything.
“It’s not just about singling him out, though, because I thought Callum Paterson – out of position at right-back – was different class and David Bates – in his first two caps – was magnificent, so from a defensive point of view we were happy.”
Robertson was pleased to win Nations League group C1 and he hopes moving a step closer to ending the 20-year wait to play at a major tournament can galvanise the Tartan Army.
Tuesday’s win was in front of just over 21,000 at Hampden, but Robertson is hoping they can pack out the national stadium again in the qualification campaign for Euro 2020.
He added: “It was a very good performance, very good result. We set out to win this league and we’ve managed it; everyone can be very happy with Tuesday.
“To end with two wins breeds confidence and the fans’ reaction at the end was very pleasing.
“Hopefully we can get Hampden full again – it’s always nice to play in front of a full crowd and we feel the country right behind us.
“Hopefully, everyone can get back on board and we can all start pushing in the right direction.”
Robertson was pleased with the character Scotland showed against Israel; firstly to come from a goal down to lead and then to hang on for the points once the visitors got the score back to 3-2.
He said: “They found spaces at the start and broke the deadlock – we need to get up to the ball but it is a fantastic finish from Kayal and we didn’t panic.
“We stayed calm, we created chances and quickly had three or four corners, which was crucial to give us momentum. From that point of view, we reacted very well.
“It was just about James Forrest stepping up and taking the chances.
“From there I thought we were pretty comfortable up until the last 10 minutes when it was a wee bit nervy, but we can deal with that.
“In the last 10 minutes we showed a resilient side – we headed everything clear and, I think, at one time they had five players up top and when a team have nothing to lose, it’s so hard to defend against. But I thought the lads stood up.
“When we needed the goalkeeper, he stood up and made a magnificent save.
“To a man, I thought we were different class.”