RANGERS’ Glenn Middleton had a key role to play as Scotland’s under-21s set up a semi-final with England at the Prestigious Toulon Tournament in France on Saturday.
Needing to defeat South Korea, they did exactly that in their final group game to follow a stunning win over the hosts and a draw with Togo.
Middleton is one of three young Gers in the squad, the others being Robby McCrorie and Liam Burt, and the former Norwich City man set up Billy Gilmour for his opener in the 2-1 defeat of the Koreans at the weekend.
Speaking to ScottishFA.co.uk, Middleton said: “It meant the world to us. We knew what we had to do before the game. The coaches made it clear how they wanted us to approach the game and we were set up accordingly. Thankfully we were able to get the job done.
“That [the goal] was really pleasing because it was something we’d worked really hard on in training. We knew South Korea pushed high up the park at full-back so it was something we were able to exploit on that occasion.
“I think the two early goals also settled the nerves we had. It takes everyone doing their bit for a move like that to come off and, personally, I’m pleased to have played my part with the cross because that’s an area of my game I’ve also been working hard on.”
The Scots now face a derby showdown with England on Wednesday to reach the final, and Middleton believes his knowledge of some of the Three Lions players could be a benefit to both him and his colleagues.
He continued: “We know England will be strong and I’m used to playing against a few of their players from my time at Norwich. But I also think that we have it within us to give them something to think about with the players in our own squad.
“One thing I’ve enjoyed about the Toulon tournament is the exposure to playing teams with completely different styles. Togo were athletic and very competitive.
“France obviously had quality across the park and South Korea pressed hard. It can only be good for our development to be out of our comfort zone like this and we’ve responded well so far.”
Middleton also has one eye on matters back in Glasgow, and he is desperate to push on this season and become a part of the Rangers first team under new manager Steven Gerrard.
He added: “Everyone is excited about the new manager coming in. He wasn’t a bad player after all and if he takes part in training he’ll probably still be one of the best. Knowing what he was capable of in his playing career, it will be great if some of that rubs off on us.
“It’s now up to me to dictate how clear the pathway into the first team can be. It’s about how hard you work and, if I get a chance in training or games, it’s up to me to take it. It would be a dream come true to play for Rangers – as it is with Scotland.”