AFTER a nervous wait Cumbernauld’s Daniel McDonald got the news every Scottish schoolboy dreams of on Friday when he was selected as part of the Lloyds TSB under 18 football squad for the 2013 Centenary Shield.
The final trials, which took place at Toryglen Recreation Football Centre, whittled the 34-strong contingent down to just 18 and the Motherwell midfielder is keen to continue his goal-scoring exploits for his country.
McDonald, a striker by trade, has scored 13 goals in his last 15 games for his club’s under 17 side but believes his experience with the under 20s will stand him in good stead for the international stage.
But with two months still remaining before the Abronhill High School pupil gets to don the famous blue jersey, McDonald insists he will train even harder to ensure he starts against Northern Ireland on February 22.
“I am absolutely delighted with the call up and it is a great end to all the trials and all the time I sacrificed and gave up to be here,” said the 16-year-old.
“This year I have started to get a lot of regular game time and now the chance to play with the Scotland set up is another chance to test myself.
“It is great to play more regularly because it is so important at my age to keep improving.
“I have noticed an improvement in my own game. I have trained with the older team, the under 20s, and I relish the challenge of playing with bigger and stronger guys.
“I’ve got 13 goals in 15 games this season and that gives you the extra confidence with the ball and on the pitch.
“I think the England game will be the one I am most looking forward to. We will be underdogs but that tends to spur you on more and I want to make a statement.
“Being selected for your country is what you play for and I just can’t wait to push on.”
Head coach Stewart Taylor, who has been involved with Scottish youth set-up since 1991, admits his latest troops have a great chance of repeating 2011’s successful campaign.
But he believes the likes of McDonald and co. will benefit from their taste of international football whether they lift the shield or not.
“It’s a huge, and a very necessary, facility that we offer with international schoolboy football,” said Taylor.
“Some of these lads have probably had the opportunity to turn professional but they have already declined opportunity and stayed on at school, and we feel it’s only right that they get the chance to sample international football of a high standard.
“I think it contributes vastly to their overall development, both as footballers and as young men as well, and the feedback we get from the boys historically has always been great.”
“They are all very aware what a role their time in the Scottish Schools’ squad has done for them. We have certainly helped a couple of boys along the way and we hope to do the same for this bunch.”
Lloyds TSB Scotland, proud partner for the Scottish Schools’ FA, is delighted to support the Scotland under 18 schoolboys squad for their 2013 Centenary Shield campaign. For all the latest squad news, visit scottishfa.co.uk/ssfa