AFTER being called up to the Scotland under 17′s training camp in Falkirk on February 14 and 15, 16-year-old Mark Shankland impressed coach Ricky Sbragia so much, he included him in the squad to face Serbia next Tuesday, February 28, writes Marc Roseblade.
It's a huge opportunity for the youngster and gives him the chance to cement himself in the squad as they look towards the UEFA Under 17 Championships elite round that will be held in Scotland in March.
This step up in competition will further enhance the player's growing stock and also that of the Academy setup as it builds and grows its
playing development product. We wish Mark all the best for this game and hope to see plenty of supporters turn out at Somerset in support of him as he makes his Scotland debut.
Mark said of the call up, "It's a dream come true to be called up to the Scotland squad. When I found out about it, I was stunned."
"Even after participating in the training camp at the beginning of the week, it still comes as a shock when you actually hear the words confirming that you have been chosen," said the 16 year old.
"It's brilliant that this match is at Somerset Park and I hope the coach sees this as home turf for me and gives me a chance, even to play a few minutes would be fantastic. I don't expect anything from this game and just to be part of the international setup is a great opportunity that I will savour for the rest of my life. Wow - part of the Scotland team! It never gets old saying that" joked Mark.
Mark's biggest supporter, mum Elaine, looked overawed by it all and Said "I feel like Mark's PA after all the phone calls we have received
since the squad was announced, so to come down to Somerset Park to speak to you has given me a break from the bedlam. It's all good though as it's the best type of contact we could get from everyone. Mark was only at the Falkirk training camp on Monday & Tuesday, so this news came through really fast. I really couldn't be any prouder of him."
"I think I am more nervous and excited about the whole thing than Mark is and I really can't wait until the big match now."
Director of the Academy, David Watson said "This is huge for Mark and also the Academy. It shows how good a player he is and we all believe he can make the grade. The fact this upcoming match is at Somerset Park is a bonus as there will be a massive turn out for Mark on what will hopefully be his Scotland international debut.
The game kicks off at 7pm at Somerset Park next Tuesday with the admission £5 for adults, while kids go free.
The squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Ryan Crump (Liverpool), Jordan Hart (Celtic), Liam Kelly (Rangers)
Defenders: Stuart Findlay (Celtic), Ryan Finnie (Hamilton Academical), Stephen Hendrie (Hamilton Academical), Lionel Stone (Brentford), Kyle Turnbull (Falkirk), Stuart Urquhart (Rangers)
Midfielders: Fraser Aird (Rangers), Lewis Kidd (Celtic), Jamie Lindsay (Celtic), Malcolm Melvin (Aston Villa), Darren Petrie (Dundee United), Darren Ramsay (Rangers), Craig Sibbald (Falkirk), Scott Smith (Dundee United), Charlie Telfer (Rangers)
Forwards: Islam Feruz (Chelsea), Ryan Gauld (Dundee United), Denny Johnstone (Celtic), Jack Kirwan (Celtic), Mark Shankland (Ayr United), Cameron Smith (Aberdeen),