Scotland squad given tinge of tangerine thanks to Dundee United

Scotland's Stuart Armstrong
Scotland's Stuart Armstrong

Stuart Armstrong will don the dark blue of Scotland tonight but there is a tinge of tangerine running through Alex McLeish’s squad.

The Southampton midfielder came through Dundee United’s ranks and played beside John Souttar, Johnny Russell and new Scotland captain Andy Robertson during his Tannadice years.

All four have made the step up to the Scotland senior side, with Souttar in line for his first cap in the double-header against Belgium and Albania.

One player missing from that group of former United talents is Ryan Gauld, who was linked with a return to Scotland recently after several loan spells away from Sporting in Portugal.

“I think he (Souttar) was only 16 when he played his first few games for Dundee United,” Armstrong said.

“He showed a lot of composure for a young player back then and he’s become a very good player. Seeing boys from United like Johnny Russell, Andy and Souttar in a Scotland squad after all those years, it’s great how it’s turned out. Souttar and Gauldy were younger than me as well.

“It was exciting. It was a young team, actually. There were a couple of months where we scored four or more in every single game. It was exciting for the fans and it was exciting to be a part of. For me, it was Stevie Campbell at Dundee United.

“I think Soapy and Gauldy had a different relationship with different youth managers.

“Andy came in as a first-team player under Jackie McNamara. I don’t think it was down to one person. It was just the opportunity for young players to go and express themselves and be free on the pitch.”

Robertson was handed the armband this week by McLeish, adding another chapter to his remarkable rise. Armstrong rooms with the Liverpool defender and insists he has not changed from his formative years at Tannadice.

He added: “He’s someone who is very well liked in the squad and it’s a very good choice.

“The one thing I’ve admired about Andy is that he’s always been the same player if he was playing for Dundee United as he would be if he was playing a Champions League Final.”

Armstrong, who moved from Celtic to Southampton in the summer, was in need of a fresh challenge and said: “The time was right.”