Scotland boss Alex McLeish has expressed his admiration for Scott McTominay‘s enthusiastic attitude during his first taste of international football.
The 21-year-old, who has emerged as a favourite of Jose Mourinho this season, was handed his first ever international cap against Costa Rica last Friday.
He played 58 minutes in a 1-0 defeat and, in keeping with the whims of international breaks, had to return to Carrington after suffering an injury, which ruled him out of Scotland’s trip to Hungary.
And McLeish, full of praise for the way McTominay conducted himself during his first few days with the national side, noted that he was truly gutted to be missing out.
“I spoke to Scott. He was gutted he was missing the next game, he said it was disappointing,” he said.
“He was okay on Saturday and then he woke up on Sunday and felt a twinge as he went into the shower.
He spoke to the doctor who said he was not going to make it.
“I had a ten-minute chat with him. He loved the experience (against Costa Rica).
“He was itching to be involved in the second game. He wants to give everything he can to Scotland.
The guy I left is raring to be a part of it. He wants to improve as a player.”
Like Jose Mourinho, McLeish has warmed to McTominay for more attitudinal reasons than tactical ones.
The midfielder’s game itself is relatively simple, revolving around simple passing, constant locomotion, and positional awareness. He is not exactly a YouTube compilation sort of player.
But to Mourinho that doesn’t matter. His comments following the win over Brighton and Hove Albion were indicative of a man frustrated with attitude of his players – namely the sense of fear and brooding when on the ball.
With McTominay, there is no such hesitation or doubt implicit in his game like there is for the likes of Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez at this moment in time.
That fearlessness, above anything, is what Mourinho wants to see from his players over the last few weeks of the season.