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Declan Gallagher: Former Livi team-mate Morgyn Neill backs defender for Scotland spot

Aberdeen signing Declan Gallagher in action for Scotland during the Euro 2020 play-off match against Israel.
Aberdeen signing Declan Gallagher in action for Scotland during the Euro 2020 play-off match against Israel.

Declan Gallagher has been backed by his former team-mate Morgyn Neill to play a key role for Scotland at Euro 2020.

Neill and Gallagher played together as part of a back three at Livingston for two seasons, helping the Lions to the League One title in 2017.

During that time Gallagher served time in prison for serious assault, for an incident dating back to 2013, before returning in early-2017 to be re-signed by Livingston.

Gallagher won promotion to the Premiership with Livi and earned himself a move to Motherwell, where his form caught the eye of national team boss Steve Clarke.

He has made eight appearances for Scotland and played a key role in helping the country qualify for its first major tournament in 23 years.

The 30-year-old, who is bound for Aberdeen after the Euros, faces competition for a starting berth at the Euros but Neill believes he deserves his chance.

He said: “We played a three at the back – I played on the left, big Deccy played in the middle and at the time it was Ben Gordon on the right. Craig Halkett came in the second year.

“He’s done really well for himself. I never thought he would push on after the troubles he’s had but he’s a brand new guy.

Morgyn Neill, left, in action for Livingston, with Declan Gallagher in the background.
Morgyn Neill, left, in action for Livingston, with Declan Gallagher in the background.

“People only maybe see the headlines. But Deccy is from my bit and deserves to be where he is.

“In my opinion he’s one of the best centre-halves we’ve got in Scotland. He can play but he’s also the most physical defender we’ve got.

“I wish him all the best and hopefully he does us a good turn against England because I’ll be down there watching him.”

Neill, who recently signed for Cove Rangers on a three-year deal after leaving Dumbarton, reckons Gallagher is one of the best natural defenders available to Clarke.

Since Grant Hanley has returned from injury he has taken his place in the middle of the backline, while Kieran Tierney is a sure-fire starter on the left.

Cove Rangers' new signing Morgyn Neill.
Cove Rangers’ new signing Morgyn Neill.

Jack Hendry has impressed since returning to the international fold while Scott McKenna and Liam Cooper are also vying for starting berths.

Neill added: “He’s done tremendously well. He probably felt lucky to be in the squad initially because of injuries – at the time they were pushing for (Scott) McKenna and John Souttar, the younger ones.

“But injuries happened to these players and he’s done brilliantly. He’s maybe been a bit unlucky this season with an injury that’s held him back.

“He’s not played a lot but I still think he’s good enough to be in the starting 11.”

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