Anya urges Scotland newcomers to jump on opportunity handed to them

Scotland's Ikechi Anya.
Scotland's Ikechi Anya.
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Ikechi Anya believes Scotland’s upcoming friendly double header gives new faces “a brilliant opportunity” to grab the same chance he took to become a regular in Gordon Strachan’s set-up.

There are 10 uncapped players over the two squads named by the national team boss for the match against Czech Republic in Prague on Thursday night and the visit of Denmark five days later.

Anya moved down south from Glasgow as a young boy and few people in Scotland had heard of him when he was called up for the World Cup qualifying double-header against Belgium and Macedonia in September, 2013.

However, the Watford wide-man has not looked back since a debut appearance as substitute against the Belgians and a goal in his first start against Macedonia and his status as a Tartan Army favourite was cemented the following year when he scored against world champions Germany in the first match of the Euro 2016 qualification campaign in Dortmund, albeit the Scots lost 2-1 and ultimately failed to qualify.

While there is little excitement surrounding the two challenge matches - which will be used by Strachan to build towards the 2018 World Cup qualifiers which begin later in the year - Anya sees the potential benefits, particularly for the new recruits which include Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, Hibernian midfielder John McGinn and Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for the new lads to come in because you need opportunities like this,” he said.

“Had I not been given this opportunity in 2013 I might not have been here.

“I still remember the day Gianfrano Zola, the Watford manager at the time, pulled me over in the cafeteria and told me Gordon Strachan had been touch.

“I was buzzing, I wanted to let the gaffer see what I could do.

“I am sure they (new faces) will be excited. It is always a great privilege to be called up to potentially get your first cap.

“I think it is a great scenario for them. There are no points at stake obviously and the gaffer is quite open about how he wants to see new players and so they should be full of energy and really enjoy it and why not? They deserve to be here.”

The former Wycombe Wanderers and Northampton Town player is more than happy to be included in the squads for both games.

He said: “The gaffer rang me before he made his announcement to see if I was comfortable with that because he knows that sometimes it can be a bit too much being away from the family at this time of the season.

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