JOHN COLLINS believes that Kieran Tierney is ‘imperative’ to how Scotland want to play.
Kieran Tierney is expected to return for Scotland tonightCredit: Getty
Collins played against England at Wembley during Euro 96Credit: PA:Press Association
Collins, 53, knows Tierney better than most, having been assistant manager to Ronny Deila when he was handed his Celtic debut in 2015.
The 60-cap former Scotland star believes that the Arsenal full-back is not just important defensively for Steve Clarke, but also in how his side can build attacks.
Collins explained to SunSport: “Well there’s so many things Kieran can bring.
“First and foremost playing on that left-side in the three, he’s an excellent defender. Very few players dribble past him because he’s a good defender.
“He’s very quick, good speed, so that’s a bonus, we’re going to need speed at the back because they’ve got some quick players in their team.
“But in possession, in the system that Stevie plays with the three central defenders, if we want to get started it comes from the left-sided central defender, or the right, by getting the ball and carrying it forward.
“They’re usually the free man at the back, carrying it forward and then drawing one of their midfielders towards them and then using the ball to pass into one of our midfielders.
“So we want to get our midfielders in possession, Kieran does that very well. He’ll get it at the back, he’ll burst forward and he’ll play a pass, he’ll draw someone towards him.
Tierney was handed his Hoops debut during John Collins’ time as assistant managerCredit: Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow
Kieran Tierney arrives in London with his Scotland team-matesCredit: The Sun
“In that system he’s really imperative if we want to build from the back. The one that’s usually released if you want to drive forward is the outside two in the back three.
“Something we never did enough of against the Czech Republic, I think, was the outside central defenders driving forward with the ball, bringing one of their midfielders towards us, and then releasing the ball with the pass into one of our midfield three.
“Kieran was a huge loss in the first game, again, defensively and offensively, he’s a big player for Scotland.”
Collins also urged Clarke’s men not to ‘stand off and admire’ England’s stars – pointing to his side’s game plan during the tight Euro 96 clash between the two teams.
He added: “You’ve got to go there believing that you can compete against the English team.
I just hope we don’t sit off them and let them have easy possession and control the game, I wouldn’t like to see that
“Don’t look at names, or stats. They’re football players with two legs, same as you. And the start of the game is vital, you’ve got to make sure that the player that’s playing against you doesn’t get easy possession, you’ve got to make it uncomfortable for him – the start’s important.
“I just hope we don’t sit off them and let them have easy possession and control the game, I wouldn’t like to see that. That wasn’t our game plan, our game plan was ‘let’s go and upset them, let’s go toe-to-toe with them’. Don’t stand off and admire them.
“All football players in big matches, what do they want? I always say, ‘I want early touches, nice simple passes, lots of touches’.
“What you don’t want is someone snapping at your feet, giving the ball away, being under pressure.
“So, my message would be to press them when it comes into that middle zone, can our midfielders be right on top of them? They’ve got good players in the middle of the pitch. But get nice and tight to them. Snap at their heels early in the game.”
John Collins was speaking to SunSport in conjunction with William Hill.
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