Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, last night outlined why Scotland has proved such a rich source of talent for the League One club, writes James Shield.
Clough acknowledged his preference for signing British rather than overseas players despite seeing Celtic hijack its bid to sign Gary Mackay-Steven from Dundee United.
Although Clough admitted his decision to continue monitoring the SPFL market was partly influenced by affordability and price, the former England international also claimed that recruiting north of the border minimised the amount of inherent risk associated with every transfer deal.
“The lads are desperate, generally, to come down and play in England,” he told The Star. “That’s great and of course they are affordable, there is value there.
“But there’s a lot more to it than that. There are a lot of positives in Scotland.
“There are some very young sides up there and they produce players. They give them experience and then, for a variety of reasons, look to sell them on.
“Okay, that’s probably not ideal if you are one of those clubs but it gives the Scottish lads a really good grounding.
“You often find, because of that, they are well-rounded players and, just as importantly, well-rounded individuals too.”
United retained an interest in Mackay-Steven after having two undisclosed bids, believed to be worth £80,000 and £100,000, rejected by Tannadice’s board of directors until Ronny Deila, the Celtic manager, reached a pre-contract agreement with the 24-year-old yesterday.
Clough, who joined United from Derby County 15 months ago, could select five Scottish players - Marc McNulty, Jamie Murphy, Stefan Scougall, Bob Harris and Ryan Flynn - in his starting eleven for today’s League One encounter at MK Dons while compatriots Stephen McGinn and Neill Collins are also members of the visitors’ squad.
Sixth-placed United trail their fellow promotion contenders by nine points but triumphed 2-1 at stadium:mk, in the Capital One Cup, earlier this season.
“We’ve had success in Scotland and so why not continue that,” Clough added. “Jamie Murphy and Ryan Flynn were already here when we arrived so we’re just continuing things really.
“Marc and Scouggs show the quality is still there.
“There’s a good Scottish contingent here and I do think that helps them to settle.
“There’s always a risk but you know the Scottish lads are likely to settle more quickly than most.”