John McGinn’s 85th-minute overhead kick earned Scotland a 2-2 draw against Austria.
It will take something special for bored-to-death Scotland supporters to take charge of the remote and switch on the TV for the Scotland v Moldova match at Hampden Park at 7pm this evening.
Recent Scotland performances have been disappointing – some would say they fall into in the ‘tear the shirt off your back’ category – but at least here in West Dunbartonshire, we will have the return of local lad John McGinn, pictured right, to look forward to.
McGinn has declared himself ready to pull the national team shirt over his head try and spark Scotland’s World Cup qualification bid into life as he returns to contention following his frustrating Covid lay-off.
The midfielder, whose family has football connections going back to the inception of the beautiful game in the late 18th century, had to miss Aston Villa’s game against Brentford last weekend as well as that damaging defeat in Denmark on Wednesday after testing positive for the virus.
John McGinn is now desperate to face Moldova at Hampden tonight after joining up with Steve Clarke’s squad at Oriam on Thursday following his period of isolation.
He said: “I’m chomping at the bit. I’m probably the worst guy to have spending 10 days in the house, but I managed to get through it thankfully.
“Villa dropped off a treadmill for me, so I was trying to stay as fit as possible and keep my head right. I’m fine now and glad to be back with the boys so hopefully I can help out.
John McGinn’s grandmother, Mary Quinn, is in this picture (second back row, extreme right) of parishioners from St Michael’s Church in the West End going on a visit to Ireland.
“If it was three or four years ago, it would have been Deliveroo every night and maybe a wee can of Tennent’s at the same time but you just can’t afford to do that these days or you get left behind.
“I managed to do what I could do, by running on the treadmill, which wasn’t ideal. Thankfully I had no symptoms and felt fine but it was a reminder of what we’re living through and that the virus is still out there.
“I’ve done full training since I returned. We’ve got all the stats and technology to check I’m alright and I’m not going to keel over. My heart-rate was a wee bit high on Thursday but I’m feeling good.
“I mentioned recently that this is the fittest I’ve ever felt so the Covid came along at an awkward time for me. It was tough for me to watch on Wednesday because I couldn’t help the boys but this is a good chance for me to get back involved and see how long I last against Moldova if I get the nod.”
McGinn believes Scotland must start strongly to ensure Moldova – who lost 2-0 at home to Austria in midweek – are not allowed to settle into the game.
He said: “The only good thing about not being involved against Denmark was that I got a chance to catch bits of the Moldova v Austria game and towards the end, although they were tiring, they still had chances to get a point.
“They were still in the game right until stoppage time so they’re definitely no mugs. They’ll relish the atmosphere at Hampden so it’s up to us to get an early goal and show our fans what we can do.
“In previous games like this where we’re expected to win, we’ve generally dealt with it pretty well by getting an early goal,but if we have to wait until the 85th minute, the three points is all that matters at the end of the day.”
McGinn’s grandfather, Jack, is a former Scottish Junior international player and his late grandmother, Mary, was for many years a familiar face in Hart’s newsagent’s shop in Brucehill.
He has two brothers, Stephen and Paul, who play football at senior level in Scotland and one of his forebears is the late, widely praised, Johnny Madden, who played for Dumbarton and Celtic at the turn of last century and later became one of the most famous soccer coaches in Europe when he played and then took up that role with Sparta Prague. That’s him above (back row, left, with members of the Slavia Prague team.)
- Saturday night’s match ended with a narrow victory (1-0) for Scotland who will now go on to play Austria on Tuesday.