Kenny McLean has been telling Angus Gunn to commit himself to Scotland for two YEARS.
But he reckons now is the first time his pal has been ready to become Steve Clarke’s No.1. The Norwich City midfielder rates Gunn as one of the best keepers he has played with. That’s why he’s delighted the 27-year-old English-born ace has finally switched allegiances.
Clarke has called up Gunn for Scotland’s opening Euro 2024 qualifying double-header against Cyprus next Saturday and Spain three days later. The goalie, who takes injured Craig Gordon’s place in the squad, has already been asking McLean and Canaries team-mate Grant Hanley about the Scotland set-up. But the Carrow Road stars were discussing the move back in 2021 when Gunn sealed a permanent switch from Southampton. McLean is convinced he has made the right decision and believes he’s a serious contender to be his adopted country’s No.1.
He told MailSport : “Gunny has been in my ear asking about the squad. But even though he was putting questions to me, I think he already knew what he wanted and what he was going to do. It’s been ongoing for a while now. Since two years ago, myself and Granty have always spoken to him about it.
“But he’s just never had a regular run in the team or a proper option for Scotland. But he’s No.1 now for Norwich, he’s playing well so he started asking the questions again.
“It was just curiosity because I think he’s always wanted to take this step. Gunny got back into our team a few months ago and he has been our best player. We’ve actually relied on him to get us points. With Craigy missing out through injury, it’s given someone a chance to come in.
“Gunny has never really been in this position of playing regularly to make the step and get called up. He now has that opportunity and when he comes away, the No.1 spot is up for grabs. We have good goalies but I train with Gunny every day so I know how good a keeper he is.
“He can definitely be a massive asset for Scotland. He’s one of the best goalies I’ve played with in my career. Look at where he’s been. He got a big-money move from Man City to Southampton and then came on loan with us to start with.
“He’s got a really good pedigree. You don’t come through at City or get that move to Southampton if you’re not a good goalie. He’s got real quality and the Scotland fans will see that soon. Whoever watched him will know that. It’s great that we’ve got him now – he’s a great lad and I’m delighted he’ll be in the squad with us.”
McLean reckons Scotland are still well off for keepers, despite Gordon being out long-term after a double leg break. He rates Hearts’ new first-pick goalie Zander Clark and Motherwell skipper Liam Kelly. But he thinks Gunn will challenge them all the way and could be thrown in to start against Cyprus at Hampden next week.
However, he might have to take some good-humoured flak from his new international team-mates! McLean said: “We’ve got a few boys in the squad who have an English accent. I’m sure Gunny will get a bit of stick when we meet up – but that will be in general and not just for being English!
“I just think it’s great that with Craigy out, we can call on a guy like Gunny who has played in the Premier League and is now doing well in the Championship. But we’ve got that everywhere with Scotland now. All of the boys are operating at a very good level.
“Kels has done really well at Motherwell and Zander has been outstanding with Hearts since Craigy got injured. It will be up to the manager to choose but Gunny is a massive contender for the jersey.”
The Scots will have to come through a tough section to qualify for the Euros in Germany, with Spain, Norway, Cyprus and Georgia in the group. But having qualified for Euro 2020 then a World Cup 2022 play-off, McLean insists Clarke’s players now EXPECT to reach major tournaments.
As he prepared for the opener against the Cypriots next week, he said: “We don’t fear anyone now. With the quality we’ve got in the squad, with boys playing at a really high level, the expectation is there now. It’s there from everybody outside but it’s also there within the group.
“We know how good we are and what we’re capable of. We have the belief that we can go and qualify again after getting to Euro 2020. We go into every campaign now thinking we can do it – and that hasn’t always been the case with Scotland. In football you just want opportunities to achieve something – and we have one right in front of us.”
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