'Criminally underrated' - City ace a huge Euros miss for Villa star
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Kenny McLean is a ‘criminally underrated’ player who will be a major loss for Scotland at the Euros, insists Aston Villa pal John McGinn.
The Norwich City midfielder damaged knee ligaments in the final day Championship trip to Barnsley that will rule him out of his country’s first appearance at a major finals since 1998.
McLean is poised to be back ahead of the Canaries’ Premier League return, and fellow top flight midfielder McGinn admits it is a devastating blow for the whole squad.
“I was gutted because Kenny is one of my closest mates in football,” said the highly-rated McGinn. “We played together at St Mirren. I speak to him most days. I saw he’d come off after 52 minutes (at Barnsley) so I texted his fiancée and asked if he was alright. Then she sent me a picture of him with the knee brace and I was gutted.
“We became so close knit and Kenny is such a criminally underrated player. He’s a superb player and a brilliant team mate. He’s not always a guaranteed starter but he’s always involved and someone a manager and his team mates can put their trust in.
“Obviously, he’s absolutely devastated and it’s the same for Ryan (Jack) too. They’re two massive members of the squad who are missing out.
“But it motivates us to make sure this isn’t a one-off, so they can be as relaxed as Virgil Van Dijk or players like that knowing (the World Cup in) Qatar is on the horizon.
“It makes us even more determined to get to Qatar to give them the experience we’ll hopefully get this summer.”
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Former Norwich transfer target, David Turnbull, and Chelsea prospect Billy Gilmour, are among the youngsters touted with a call up in McLean’s absence.
Scotland have been drawn in the same group as England, with a derby tussle at Wembley next month.
“It is such an exciting time to be involved. Hopefully we can do ourselves justice,” said McGinn, speaking to the Scotsman. “I think the squad size going from 23 to 26 should give a lot of players hope.
"I’ve come across Billy a few times down here. He’s an exceptional player - it’s just a matter of time.
"It’s the same with David, who’s been exceptional. But there are others as well. So many players can put themselves into that bracket. We have a pool of about 40 or 50 players the manager can rely on.
"It’s refreshing they’ve got something to play towards and look forward to.”