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What Scottish football MUST do to launch next exciting era as Malky Mackay warns 'we can't rest on our laurels'

Malky Mackay has warned Scottish football must keep investing proper sums into youth development if Scotland is to remain at the top table of the international game.

The future of the seven SFA performance schools continues to be a topic for debate with doubts around funding never far from the conversation. Billy Gilmour and Nathan Patterson are the poster boys for the programme which was established 12 years ago. But plenty more promising stars including Connor Barron, Calvin Ramsay and Max Johnston have come through the system which can boast of producing 40 U21 internationals already.

Together with the meteoric rise of Lewis Ferguson, Aaron Hickey and Ben Doak who emerged from club academies the youth programmes across Scotland are working flat out according to Mackay. But he says the authorities must not rest on their laurels. And with Scotland officially the oldest squad at the Euros, he insists it’s vital the conveyor belt keeps running backed by serious cash to ensure a smooth transition when Steve Clarke’s current top team run out of legs. He said: “The important thing is the group coming in behind.

“That’s not just going to happen, it’s hard work in the performance schools, the national youth teams, and the close relationship with the club academies that keeps the conveyor belt going. You’ve seen that with this Euros, there’s three or four countries where teams have just gone over the hill, guys have retired and there’s not the same level coming through below them.

“We have to keep investing in Scottish youth football and Scottish programmes to make sure these kids keep coming through. We’ve seen Scottish boys going to Europe now. Josh Doig is in Italy, the Lewis Ferguson story is incredible. He has come

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