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Mark McGhee: Scotland national team was the winner on deadline day

Armstrong and Mackay-Steven have been missed by United since January
Armstrong and Mackay-Steven have been missed by United since January

The winter transfer window could not have worked out better for the Scotland national team as far as Mark McGhee is concerned.

Gordon Strachan’s deputy watched on Monday night as key players secured moves to clubs where they will play regular while emerging talents have joined clubs at the top tier of the Scottish game.

The decision by former captain Darren Fletcher to leave Manchester United for West Brom was hugely significant, as was Barry Bannan’s loan move to Bolton from Crystal Palace.

Scotland’s friendly against Northern Ireland is fast-approaching before crucial 2016 European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar on March 29 and the Republic of Ireland in June.

Barry Bannan was one of a number of Scotland internationals to move on deadline day
Barry Bannan was one of a number of Scotland internationals to move on deadline day

And McGhee knows it is important the best players are at their peak.

He said: “Darren and Barry’s moves are really positive ones as far as the Scotland squad is concerned.

“Darren is potentially still a hugely important player for us and if we were to have him back firing on all cylinders again and playing regularly for West Brom it could be hugely significant as we turn our attention towards the international matches next month and in June.

“A fit and in-form Darren Fletcher would be a huge asset.

Scotland captain Darren Fletcher left Manchester United for West Brom
Scotland captain Darren Fletcher left Manchester United for West Brom

“Barry is slightly different in that despite not playing every week at club level, he has always been absolutely fantastic for us.

“But certainly the chance to play regularly at Bolton can only be a positive for him as well.”

The news of many tens of millions of pounds changing hands in England on deadline day, while little or nothing of note happened in Scotland, had been the norm for several years with events north of border little more than an after-thought for the yellow tie brigade ratcheting the most of mediocre of signings through the roof.

But Monday was a landmark day for the Scottish Premiership clubs.

There was no Robbie Keane-induced mania outside Parkhead this time around, more a sound investment in young Scottish talent following Celtic’s late raid for Dundee United duo Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong which might not have pleased the Tannadice club’s supporters, but bolstered club coffers by £2million.

By the time those deals were completed Aberdeen had already gone to bed for the night following their swift and unexpected £300,000 signing of St Mirren’s best player, Kenny McLean.

McLean has 11 caps for Scotland Under-21s and will hope his move to the Dons can push him towards Gordon Strachan's plans
McLean has 11 caps for Scotland Under-21s and will hope his move to the Dons can push him towards Gordon Strachan’s plans

United, having lost two key players, were quick to reinforce their team with the return of Paul Dixon, from Huddersfield, and the signing of Robbie Muirhead from Kilmarnock.

McGhee believes Scottish players moving up the talent ladder made for a welcome change and will only strengthen and increase the options available to Strachan.

He said: “Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong are the players they are because they have been playing for Dundee United, but certainly I don’t see why they cannot take their careers to the next level with Celtic.

“Celtic can offer them European football on an annual basis and I cannot stress enough how important a platform that is in Scotland when it comes to preparing players for the demands of international football.

“They have two huge games against Inter Milan to look forward to in the Europa League and possibly more European football beyond that, while there could also be Champions League football if Celtic win the league in May.

“Gaining that sort of experience will only make them better players and they will certainly gain a huge amount of confidence.

 

McGhee believes Armstrong and Mackay-Steven's development will be aided by the chance to play European football
McGhee believes Armstrong and Mackay-Steven’s development will be aided by the chance to play European football

“It’s the same situation with Kenny McLean now he has moved to Aberdeen.

“He has joined a club which is on the up and looks like being in European football next season and he will learn so much from playing in that environment in the Premiership.”

While the high-profile moves fuelled the Monday night chat among Scottish football supporters, the return of one player to his homeland caught McGhee’s eye.

Former Dons midfielder Fraser Fyvie, who was handed his debut at Pittodrie as a raw but talented teenager, is back in Scottish football with Hibernian in the Championship following a disappointing two years in England with Wigan Athletic.

For the man touted, it must be said with tongue firmly in cheek, at £10million by McGhee in 2009, a move to the second tier with Hibs is far from the career path both Fyvie and his former manager expected.

But McGhee has urged the Aberdonian to look at one of his former Pittodrie team-mates for inspiration as he tries to revive a stalled career. He said: “I’d like to see Fraser Fyvie playing first-team football regularly again.

“People forget he is still only 21 and he was only 16 when I gave him his debut for the Dons.

“When I was at Aberdeen Fraser and Peter Pawlett were the two emerging young talents at the club and I lost them both to injuries for a long period.

McGhee is backing Fraser Fyvie to get back to his best
McGhee is backing Fraser Fyvie to get back to his best

“It was a big blow to me as manager and looking back now, it was a huge setback for the club and to the two players as well.

“But Peter has put his problems behind him to become a key player for Aberdeen and has put himself on the fringes of the international set-up, along with defender Mark Reynolds.

“That’s where Fraser has to get himself to now. Hibs is a good move for him and following his disappointing time in England I’m sure coming back to Scotland and having a point to prove won’t do him any harm.”

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