ARBROATH goalkeeper Leonard Wilson insists he is ready and waiting to be called upon as Scotland’s under-18 schoolboys bid to earn a share of the Centenary Shield.
The 17-year-old has only featured for 45 minutes of Scotland’s unbeaten campaign so far but could yet still play a vital role in deciding their fate with just one match remaining.
Defeat of the Republic of Ireland in Dublin later this month will see them share the Centenary Shield with England, who they held to a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park last week.
That prevented England from lifting the trophy while elsewhere Scotland have also drawn 1-1 with Northern Ireland in East Fife and thrashed Wales 5-1 in Hamilton.
And, despite only making a brief cameo so far in this year’s Centenary Shield, Arbroath goalkeeper Wilson is ready for more – adamant the experience has made him a better player.
“Obviously as a sub goalkeeper it can get difficult but just to be a part of it is a really great experience,” said Wilson. “It was never going to be easy to play in this Shield but we have done really well and given ourselves a great chance.
“We look really good at the moment and we are full of confidence so it’s about maintaining that. Confidence is really high for us now and we are unbeaten so far in the tournament which is a huge boost.
“I’ve only managed to get 45 minutes against Wales but I still feel like I’ve improved dramatically from being here. Training has helped me a lot and as a goalkeeper you always have to be ready so that really helps you to mature.”
Scotland’s fortunes are in stark contrast to the 2013 Centenary Shield when – without Arbroath keeper Wilson – they failed to win a game and finished last.
But, unbeaten so far this time around, coach Stewart Taylor admits he will remain impressed with Wilson no matter what the outcome should be in Dublin.
“Obviously it was good that we did keep the tournament alive by getting the draw,” he said. “That gives us real purpose going to Dublin – we have everything to play for. We are pretty focussed on that and we are looking forward to it.
“I have been delighted with them. Like any group of teenagers they are never going to be perfect but overall they have been absolutely fantastic.
“They have been a credit to their parents, their clubs and their schools. It has been a privilege to be able to work with a group like that.”
TSB, proud partner of the Scottish Schools’ FA, is delighted to support the Scotland U18 schoolboys squad for their 2014 Centenary Shield campaign. For all the latest squad news, visit scottishfa.co.uk/ssfa