HE was known as a wide man himself once. Unfamiliar with the word “gallus”, former Scotland manager Berti Vogts christened James McFadden his “cheeky boy”. It is wide men in a more literal sense that McFadden now will look to in his more mature role as national team coach as Scotland kick off their European Championships campaign next month.

A double header against Kazakhstan and San Marino is the opening gambit for Alex McLeish’s side as they look to negotiate their way through the qualification phase. And it is wingers James Forrest and Ryan Fraser that McFadden will ask to give Scotland the little bit of swagger that could get their aspirations off to a timely start.

Bournemouth’s Fraser and Celtic’s Forrest might be more subdued characters than McFadden was but he believes they can be just as influential to Scotland.

“Ryan is small, quick. You know, how do you stop a wee quick guy? - you kick him,” said the Scotland coach. “So he has had practice. Using my own experiences when I was younger, I got kicked and I loved it because it meant they couldn’t stop you and I am sure Ryan is the same. When we watched him at Bournemouth, he was wing-back against Peter Crouch. He couldn’t be any more different but it didn’t phase him. That is the kind of characters that we need.

“I think his [Forrest’s] maturity is there for all to see. Certainly in the last six months, and I know he has scored goals before, he is getting into the box a lot more. I think when you are playing as a wide man you don’t always need to touch the ball to affect the game. He does look after it. If you are making good movements and getting into the box your first touch is your last touch and it’s a goal. You don’t always have to take people on. So he has got an intelligence to play the position. It is there for all to see and hopefully we will get the benefit of that.”

The strong Celtic spine that has ran through the Scotland team in recent seasons remains, with Oliver Burke the latest in line for a recall. With Leigh Griffiths out of action for the foreseeable future, there is a shortage of striking options for Alex McLeish to look to. Steven Naismith is fully fit after being out for a couple of months but Burke appears firmly in line for a recall to domestic duty. The 21-year-old has not featured for Scotland in almost two years – his last appearance was a 1-1 draw with Canada in March 2017 at Easter Road – but his form at Celtic since his January loan move looks set to earn him a return to the international fold.

And McFadden believes that for the first time in his life, the youngster might actually be receiving some coaching as he gets to work with Brendan Rodgers at Parkhead.

“The biggest thing that was stopping him was he wasn’t playing,” said McFadden. “The way he has been playing since he came up has been brilliant. You can see that he is developing a game sense. Some of his play has been, maybe not eye-catching, but he is holding it up, he is bringing others into play and he is making good movements that you would expect a striker to play.

“Maybe when Oli was younger because he was so strong and quick, coaches would say ‘oh, he is a winger, we’ll just stick him out wide. We’ll not teach him anything. We'll just stick him out wide and give him the ball. And that happens to a lot of fast players like Oli who have an athletic body shape. I imagine he has not had an awful lot of instruction because of that. Just give it to Oli and he’ll do the rest. It is learning. It is alright telling a player do this and do that. We spoke about the two wide guys and how James Forrest doesn’t give the ball away – he has not always been like that. He has learned how to do that. It is alright training and coaching but if you are training every day without going into a game, you are not making enough mistakes that will make a difference. We are excited about him and he has been on the radar for a long time but until someone plays him a run of games then how can you really judge them?”

The same philosophy applies to Scotland as they look to get up and running.