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‘JACK’S MY LAD,’ SCOTS BOSS

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CELTIC new Bhoy Jack Hendry was praised by Alex McLeish after his winning Scotland debut in Budapest last night.

The 22-year-old defender, signed from Dundee in January, excelled alongside former Hoops captain Charlie Mulgrew and Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna as the Scots overcame Hungary 1-0 with a second-half goal from Matt Phillips.

McLeish said: “I thought Big Jack, in his first game, was very cool, calm and super-confident.

“He’s got that demeanour and he concentrated for the whole game.

“Scott McKenna was amazing, too. He’s had a two superb games, but, on this occasion, I thought he was even better.

“We had some great performances, every player to a man.”

Mulgrew, who has scored 12 goals for League One outfit Blackburn Rovers this season, blew the opportunity of giving the visitors the lead just before the interval.

The Scots were awarded a spot-kick after Ryan Fraser had been brought down on the edge of the area.

However, Mulgrew, who was named as Scott Brown’s successor as the new international captain last week, saw his effort saved by the keeper.

McLeish added: “You could say it wasn’t going to happen for us when we missed the penalty, but we were in control of our emotions and came back.

“It’s massive. It gives them the evidence that they can win a football match.”

Scotland were a disappointment when they lost 1-0 to Cristian Gamboa’s World Cup-bound Costa Rica at Hampden on Friday night, Big Eck’s first game back in charge of the nation.

He gave four players their first appearances, but last night he opted for more experienced campaigners such as Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest and that helped the fluency of the team and upped the tempo.

Callum McGregor, in only his third start for his country, dovetailed magnificently alongside Armstrong and Hibs’ John McGinn in the team’s engine room.

McLeish added: “The midfield virtually controlled it. We had one slip, I have nothing but praise for everybody. We played some players with more experience and knowledge of each other.

“When I took the job I said I thought we had players with good athleticism and speed, but could we find a system to play with tempo and win the ball back immediately? There was real intensity in this encounter.”

Scotland’s next games are against Peru in Lima on May 29 and Mexico at the Azteca Arena on June 2.

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