Neil Cooper hopes Lawrence Shankland can shine for Scotland.
The former Aberdeen striker has been rewarded for hitting 15 goals in 12 games for Dundee United this term with a call-up for the national team’s Euro 2020 qualifying double header with Russia and San Marino.
Although the 24-year-old is playing in the Championship, Steve Clarke has taken a chance on him for next week’s Group I games due to a dearth of other striking options.
Shankland joined Aberdeen from Queen’s Park in 2013, with former Dons youth coach and Inverurie Locos manager Cooper sent to scout him.
In four years with the Dons he made 17 appearances without scoring as well as having loan spells at Dunfermline, St Mirren and Morton. He joined Ayr in 2017 after leaving the Reds.
Cooper, who worked with Shankland for a year before leaving Pittodrie in 2014, said: “I’m delighted for Lawrence. when he first came to Aberdeen from Queen’s Park you could see he had ability.
“His finishing was really good and he was good at linking with other players in and around the box.
“A sign of all good strikers is the ability to find space in the box, getting round the back of defenders or in front of them.
“Everybody develops at a different rate and some people develop later than others.
“Lawrence is one of them. He went out on loan from Aberdeen and then he joined Ayr United permanently.
“During that time he’s shown what a great attitude he has. He has gained experience and developed as a player.
“He did really well scoring for Ayr and now he’s got his move to Dundee United and he’s got a call-up out of it.
“It will be great to see how he gets on working with the guys in the Scotland squad who are playing at a higher level than him.
“Steve Clarke will be able to judge where Lawrence is by having him in the squad and it’s great for Lawrence to be called up.
“Lawrence is still a young player and I’m pleased he’s got a chance and I hope he does well.
“Steve Clarke can only judge where he is in comparison to the rest of his squad by having him involved.”
Scotland’s hopes of reaching Euro 2020 from Group I are basically over and Cooper can see why national boss Clarke is experimenting.
He added: “It’s hard for Steve because he doesn’t have an abundance of top-quality strikers or top-quality central defenders.
“In terms of strikers at the highest level you need someone up front who has pace, is strong and can hold the ball up as well as scoring goals. I don’t think Scotland have anybody like that.
“There are lots of good quality players in the Scotland squad, but a lot of them are in midfield.”