Scot Gemmill, the Scotland under-17 manager, has endorsed Sheffield United’s decision to invest time and resources into the SPFL transfer market, writes James Shield.
Nigel Clough has signed three players from north of the border since taking charge at Bramall Lane 16 months ago with Jason Holt, the Heart of Midlothian midfielder, the latest to join the League One club.
Gemmill, who was appointed by the SFA in March, told The Star a combination of “opportunity and financial necessity” means Scottish youngsters are often better equipped to success than their English counterparts.
“Getting a chance to show what you can do is the key for any young footballer,” he said. “And, for a variety of different reasons, money included, there is no shortage of those within the Scottish game.
“Teams up here are having to develop their own players more and more rather than just relying on expensive ones from overseas.
“So, it’s not uncommon for a Scottish lad to have 100 or so games under his belt by the time he turns 20 or 21 and, understandably, that makes them very attractive to potential purchasers.
“In management, when you job is on the line, it’s all about trust. Knowing that someone is streetwise enough to put it on the line when the going gets tough.
“So, when it comes to doing due-diligence on a potential signing, having that pedigree and track record helps to eliminate the element of risk.”
Holt, described by Gemmill as a “very highly regarded and energetic performer,” could make the 77th senior appearance of his professional career when United, beaten by Preston North End in the FA Cup earlier this week, return to League One action at Gillingham tomorrow. But, as Gary Mackay-Stevens’ move to Celtic demonstrated last month, Scottish club’s are attempting to stem the flow of talent to the EPL and Football League. Mackay-Steven attracted interested from Bramall Lane before swapping Dundee United for Parkhead.
Mark Howard, the United goalkeeper, represented St Mirren, Falkirk and Aberdeen before returning to England and Gemmill said: “Because opportunity is everything, I think it’s a no-brainer for lads who aren’t getting a chance in England to start looking up here because they know they’ve got a good chance of being able to learn their profession.
“When Gary moved within Scotland, the same as Stuart Armstrong and Kenny McLean during the recent window, it brought a different dynamic to what’s been happening lately which is good but the principles remain the same.
“The lads who come from Scotland to England are, by definition, usually to cream of the crop because their technique is sound. But that’s only happened because they’ve been given an opportunity to progress.”