Ross County forward Billy Mckay believes the Scottish Premiership will be a major beneficiary of the national team’s Euro 2020 success.
The national team booked their place at next summer’s finals thanks to a nerve-shredding penalty shootout win against Serbia.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke has shown he is ready to hand non-Old Firm players based in Scotland a chance with Motherwell’s Declan Gallagher and Kilmarnock’s Stephen O’Donnell both starting in Belgrade, while Aberdeen’s Andy Considine won his first cap at the age of 33 last month.
Staggies striker Mckay, capped 11 times by Northern Ireland, believes players across the Scottish Premiership will now be targeting a place in the Euro 2020 squad.
He said: “It will have a big impact.
“There are a lot of Scottish players in the league and every single one of them will be eying up a place in the squad.
“It is great for Scottish football that there are a lot of players from the league in the squad.
“I think it will help raise the standard.
“Everyone will want to put their name forward to be in that squad.
“It will make games tougher for us, but it will be good for the league.”
Mckay narrowly missed out on being part of the Northern Ireland squad for Euro 2016 in France.
He said: “I was in the 26-man squad and was one of the three or four to miss out.
“It was disappointing at the time.
“I was on the bench for every qualifying squad, but it depends on the season the tournament falls on and how good you were.
“Players have the chance right until the tournament to get in the squad so you have got to be playing your best.
“I was in the situation where boys came into the squad late who hadn’t played in the qualifiers and made the squad.
“The Scottish players will have right until the tournament to show what they can do.
“Everyone is going to want to do that and it will raise the standards of the league.”
Despite the disappointment of missing out on Michael O’Neill’s 23-man squad for the Euros, Mckay went to France to cheer on his country as they made it to the last-16 of the competition.
He said: “I had been in a lot of squads with the lads, so I was really happy for them getting there.
“They did great that summer. I was there as a fan with my dad and uncles. They had a great time.
“It was good to see them get there and they were really unlucky recently to miss out on getting to the Euros next summer.”
The 32-year-old was delighted, but unsurprised to see his former Caley Thistle team-mate Ryan Christie play a leading role in helping Scotland qualify for a first major finals since the 1998 World Cup.
He said: “When he came through at Inverness, everyone could see the ability he had.
“He just had to fill out a little bit and keep working to improve.
“His ability was second to none, he was outstanding.
“I remember him training at 17 and he was one of the best players, if not the best player, every day.
“You could see the ability and he has pushed on. The loan to Aberdeen did him wonders.
“He is playing every week at Celtic, scoring goals and creating chances.
“He is one of the main men for Scotland, which is great to see.
“He is a really good, so I’m happy for him and I know the boys who played with him at Inverness will be delighted for him.”
Christie had to deal with the pressure of being the son of Caley Thistle legend Charlie, who played and managed the club, when he broke through the ranks at Inverness.
Mckay said: “There could have been pressure, but he never showed it.
“John Hughes gave him his debut and he didn’t look back.
“There was only one way he was going.
“I still think he could push on and play in the Premier League as well because he is that good.
“I don’t think the pressure ever got to him and his ability shone through.
“I’m not in too much contact with him now, but from what I hear he is still the same lad, joking around and with the same mentality, from Inverness.
“I think he still enjoys his roots and comes home when he can as he is a family lad.
“It is great he hasn’t changed, as it can get to people, but that is not the case with him.
“He is taking everything in his stride.
“He is very grounded.”