The Billy Gilmour Covid shock has almost certainly cost Scotland a potential place in the KO stages, but more importantly long term has implications on Scottish football on a larger scale.
Scotland, as a football nation, has been deeply backwards with youth. With everything, really, but especially youth.
Steve Clarke only included Gilmour (along with Patterson and Turnbull) as a token gesture he wasn’t even prepared to use, but after massive media and fan pressure, he buckled at last and started the 20-year old against England.
Gilmour ran the show with a world class display, won MOTM and truly announced himself on the global stage as a special player whose sky is the limit.
And suddenly Scotland were in with a serious chance of the next stage – before Covid then stole Gilmour away and the odds changed hugely.
And here’s the crux of the issue – that Steve Clarke, Steven Gerrard and most Scotland-based managers are so reticent to use young players, and when they finally do give them a chance said youth blows everyone away, so much so that after one appearance they already appear indispensable.
In short, the fact we will miss Gilmour v Croatia only highlights how backwards Scotland is as a nation that the NT refused to use him, and Rangers wouldn’t give him a pathway to the seniors either.
But he finally gets his chance and makes a mockery of that.
Yes, his absence is a game changer v Zlatko Dalic’s side – Gilmour’s control, precision, vision and class on the ball not to mention composure and maturity would have been vital v Croatia, and now we’re back to the Scotland who huffed and puffed to defeat v Czech Rep.
All because Scotland doesn’t like to trust youth in the first place.