FORFAR Athletic’s James Yates is enjoying his taste of the big time with Scotland’s under-18 schoolboys squad and he is determined to finish it with some silverware.
Yates and Scotland will head to Dublin at the end of this month knowing victory will see them claim the Centenary Shield – just one year after they finished pointless and last in the tournament.
A draw with Northern Ireland and a 5-1 thrashing of Wales took Scotland and Yates to Ewood Park on Friday night to face their English counterparts.
A 1-1 draw ensured England did not lift the trophy and now victory against the Republic of Ireland will see Scotland share the Shield with the auld enemy.
Yates is confident of completing the job in Dublin and the experience has him hungry for more football at very highest level.
“I would really love to do this every week and I think a tournament like this that gives you a chance to play in those kinds of arenas is great,” said the 17-year-old.
“That makes you hungry for success and makes you want to push on in your career and I’m no different in that way.
“I loved every minute of it and now we are going into the Ireland game knowing exactly what we have to do.
“We feel confident about it and about our chances so it’s just a case of going there and playing as well as we can.
“We know if we do that then we have a good chance of winning and anything can happen. It’s all to play for but so far we have been really good and that in itself is a huge positive for us.”
This year’s Centenary Shield has seen a dramatic turnaround from coach Stewart Taylor’s point of view and he has been thoroughly impressed with Yates on and off the pitch.
And Taylor believes taking a point against England at Ewood Park will give Yates and the rest of the Scottish team the belief they need to go to Ireland and get the job done.
“We emphasised to the boys that they didn’t want to be standing and spectating when England lifted the Centenary Shield,” 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