Former Scotland manager Craig Brown believes Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson will thrive at international level.
The 22-year-old earned a debut cap on his first senior call-up in the 2-0 World Cup qualifier loss to Group F leaders Denmark in Copenhagen.
Ferguson featured for the Scots again as a late substitute in the vital 1-0 defeat of Austia in Vienna.
Brown, who led the Scots to the Euro 1996 and World Cup 1998 finals, reckons Ferguson has slotted seamlessly into Steve Clarke’s squad.
Scotland now face Israel at a sell-out Hampden on Saturday October 9 in a match that will be pivotal to hopes of securing a World Cup 2022 play-off spot.
Brown said: “You could put Lewis Ferguson into the Scotland team and not bat an eyelid.
“He is the type of player who will seamlessly slot right into international football.
“Ferguson will grab any opportunity he gets at international level.”
‘Brilliant management’ by Steve Clarke
The Dons midfielder secured a debut cap when introduced in injury time against runaway group leaders Denmark.
Ferguson then came off the bench again in the 88th minute in Vienna as Austria were pushing on to secure an equaliser.
The Dons midfielder helped the Scots hold on to secure three points to deliver a huge boost in the bid to finish runners-up behind inevitable group winners Denmark.
Brown believes the introduction of Ferguson late on was a managerial masterstroke by Clarke who delivered a clear message that he views the midfielder as an international level player he will use going forward.
Brown said: “Steve Clarke brought Ferguson on against Denmark and Austria and I thought that was brilliant management.
“He has given him that international recognition.
“The opposition look at a team and say ‘this player hasn’t had a cap’.
“They can’t say that now about Ferguson because he has caps.
“I used to look at the opposition, particularly if their keeper didn’t have a cap, and would think at the first crossed ball we’ll see how he likes international football.”
Willie Miller: Debut cap elevates self belief
Scotland legend Willie Miller insists those caps, regardless of how late they came in the games, are a clear indication from Clarke that he views Ferguson as an international level player who can be trusted.
Capped 65 times Gothenburg Great Miller played in the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals with Scotland.
Miller believes Ferguson’s confidence and self belief will increase even further now that he has been elevated to the level of a senior international
He said: “That first cap is vital and you cannot diminish the power of being able to call yourself an international player.
“It is really important in your progression and it also shows the manager feels Ferguson has potential to be an international player going forward.
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“Speaking from my own experience once you have that nod from the manager that he thinks you are good enough to rub shoulders with the best of what Scotland can produce it does elevate your well being and self belief as a footballer.
“That is what will happen here with Ferguson.”
Ferguson still at Aberdeen after window
Ferguson’s Scotland senior debut in Denmark came the day after the summer transfer window closed.
There had been speculation throughout the window that Ferguson could exit Pittodrie before the transfer deadline.
Aberdeen rejected an offer of under £2m from Premier League Watford in May and that knock-back prompted the midfielder to slap in a transfer request.
Ferguson is contracted to Aberdeen until summer 2024 and Miller insists the midfielder must continue to impress at club level to remain high in Clarke’s thoughts ahead of the Israel game.
He said: “It is concerning times when a window is away to close and there is speculation surrounding a key player.
“Not only that but a very versatile player who can be trusted to play in a number of positions and perform well in each of them.
“All the speculation is out the way, Ferguson is an international player and his future for now is at Aberdeen.
“That is what Ferguson has to focus on now – the performances for Aberdeen and being in the international manager’s mind constantly moving forward in all these really important games coming up.”
Boost for Glass to still have Ferguson
Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass had said throughout the window that the Dons were not actively looking to sell Ferguson and that the midfielder was an integral component of his plans.
Obviously there are issues that could be outwith his control, such as a club coming in with an offer that was too good to refuse – but that didn’t happen.
Miller said: “I’m sure manager Stephen Glass is delighted he doesn’t’ have to contemplate who is going to take Ferguson’s place in the team.
“He can now focus on getting the results right and addressing the competition that is undoubtedly going to be there in the league with Hibs and Hearts starting so well.
“And we can be sure Rangers and Celtic will be strong.
“Stephen Glass needs all the quality and international players at his disposal – he will need them in a competitive season.
“Ferguson will be a key man this season.”