John McGinn on Scotland caps ambition: ‘Why not aim for 100?’

John McGinn captained Scotland to a 3-0 win over Ukraine
McGinn captained Scotland to a 3-0 win over Ukraine, scoring his 14th international goal
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Saturday, 24 September Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio Scotland Extra/DAB/810MW, live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app, highlights on BBC One Scotland from 22:50

As John McGinn stands on the cusp of his 50th Scotland cap, the midfielder is already dreaming of the century.

The Aston Villa 27-year-old marked his 49th international appearance with the opening goal in Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Ukraine at Hampden.

With Andy Robertson absent, McGinn is in line to captain the side again in Saturday’s meeting with the Republic of Ireland.

“I get a bit emotional with how far I’ve managed to come,” said McGinn.

“There have been loads of ups and downs in my career and it’s certainly a ‘pinch me moment’ and time for reflection.

“But it’s important for me to build on it. Why not aim for 100? Because I’ll keep playing until I’m told I’m not good enough.”

Only Kenny Dalglish has made it to triple figures for Scotland (102 caps).

Dalglish is the nation’s joint record goalscorer on 30, along with Denis Law (55 caps), while McGinn is now in ninth place on that all-time list, tied with Mo Johnston.

All of his 14 goals have come in 35 games under Steve Clarke.

“It’s probably a position I didn’t think I could play before the manager came in,” McGinn told BBC Scotland. “He pulled me aside one day and said, ‘I’m going to play you higher up’. I managed to get a couple of goals and they just kept coming.

“Obviously it’s brilliant for me to help the team. I feel the confidence from the stands, the sidelines and most importantly from my team-mates. Hopefully, I can keep contributing and scoring for Scotland, which is the best feeling the world.”

‘We need to back up Ukraine win’

Scotland now top Nations League Group B1 and draws in each of their final two games, against the Irish at Hampden and Ukraine in Krakow, would be enough to seal promotion to the A division as well as a place among the second seeds for next month’s Euro 2024 qualifying draw.

“Beating Ukraine was a huge result, but it’s one we need to back up,” said McGinn.

“We need to be a regular pot two team and try to push for pot one, not only for us but for the players coming through to make their path to the major tournaments easier.”

Scotland ended their 23-year wait for a place on the big stage at the delayed Euro 2020 finals, but suffered a painful play-off semi-final loss to Ukraine in Glasgow in June, with Wales then beating Ukraine to take their place in England’s group at this winter’s World Cup.

“Once we get somewhere, the manager doesn’t want to stop,” revealed McGinn. “As players we probably need to change our mentality. Once we got to the Euros we should have realized that we deserved to be there. But we weren’t used to it and got too involved with everything that comes with it.

“We will learn from that and we will learn from the experience of losing the play-offs. The thing that hurts the most is we know we are capable of being in Qatar, so we need to use the feeling of not going to spur us on to become better.”

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