Republic of Ireland v Scotland: John McGinn says squad ‘loyalty’ promises bright future

Scotland midfielder John McGinn and centre-half Grant Hanley
John McGinn and Grant Hanley are closing in on 50 Scotland caps
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 11 June Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app, watch highlights on Sportscene

John McGinn says the fact he is one of three players closing in on 50 Scotland caps is a sign of renewed “commitment and loyalty” – and a bright future.

The 27-year-old Aston Villa midfielder could chalk up appearance number 47 at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Scotland face Republic of Ireland in their second Nations League game.

“Maybe a few years ago the summer games might have been sniffed at and there would have been withdrawals left, right and centre,” McGinn admitted.

“But the core of the squad remains the same and we are all focused on making this country successful again.”

Norwich City centre-half Grant Hanley is on 43 caps, Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor has one more, while Heart of Midlothian goalkeeper Craig Gordon and captain and Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson have both long surpassed the half century.

“Yes, closing in – I don’t want to jinx it,” McGinn said. “One was enough for me, to be perfectly honest.

“If you had asked me during my early days at St Mirren would I play 46 times for my country, I would have probably laughed.”

McGinn, though, stressed that, apart from 39-year-old Gordon, it is a youthful squad and pointed to the progress made by Everton right-back Nathan Patterson, Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour and Bologna left-back Aaron Hickey.

“We have a right good batch which could qualify for the next two tournaments,” he said. “We are all hungry, still focused on being successful. The future is bright for Scotland.”

While the Scots began Nations League Group B1 with a 2-0 win over Armenia in Glasgow on Wednesday, the Republic have lost their opening two fixtures to Armenia and Ukraine, but McGinn is expecting “a tough game”.

“I know Ireland aren’t in great form, but there are players in the dressing room that we are aware of, we play against them every week, so their form will turn,” he said. “They will have a point to prove.

“They will be physical and more than capable of getting a result, so we need to be at our best and hopefully come away with three points.”

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