I know there will be supporters of some clubs in Scotland that won’t like me saying this, and I mean no disrespect to players at these clubs, but for me, a huge part of Scotland’s recent success is that we have more players exposed to the top level of the game.

By that, I mean we have a good core of players now who are plying their trade in the English Premier League, as well as having them backed up by some Old Firm players who are doing well for us. When you’re in charge of the national side, it isn’t that you only want to pick players from the big clubs, it’s that the players become better because they are exposed to a higher level of competition.

You could play Celtic and Rangers players who know what it’s like to play in the Champions League and the Europa League and are used to playing against the best players in the world. But if you’re going from a middle of the league team in Scotland that doesn’t play in Europe then it’s a different ball game. Then you go to England, and it’s a different ball game again.

It’s ok playing in Scotland if you’re getting regular exposure to playing against the best players. But I’ve been looking at some of the teams our smaller teams have been beaten off of in the last 10 to 15 years in Europe, and I don’t even know what countries they come from.

So, you have to get to a level to improve you as a player. There’s coaching, but playing at the top level like Celtic and Rangers do regularly in the Europa and the Champions League, that’s good enough to improve you.

Just look at Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney, Allan McGregor when he played, Alan Hutton who played in the 2008 UEFA Cup Final against Zenit. That will make you a better player, because you get to know what it’s like to play against top players.

Everybody says that international level is the top level, but no it’s not, you play against some absolute rubbish at international level. People say to be a player you have to play at international level. No you don’t. You could play against Bonnyrigg Rose and get a better game than against some of these teams.

Play in the Champions League regularly, play in the English Premier League regularly, then you’re a top player.

A major factor in why we are progressing is that we have a decent number of players now going up against world-class players on a weekly basis. We have Andy Robertson, of course, Kieran Tierney, Scott McTominay, Stuart Armstrong and John McGinn, for example.

For McGinn and some of the lads to go from the middle of the Scottish Premiership and go down to England is a big enough step. John benefited because was in the Championship first with Aston Villa, then moved up a level. I have to say, he’s done fantastically well.

He is the perfect example of the point I’m trying to make. There is no doubt at all that that league has made him a better player. He’s learning every day, watching good players around him every day, playing against top players every week. It definitely improves you, there’s absolutely no doubt about that.

Playing in England makes a huge difference, and to get there, players have to have that will to improve themselves to go along with their talent. The improvement in McGinn as a player is down to John’s drive, and Robertson was the same. He’s now arguably the best left-back in the world…alongside Tierney.

As much as there is an increasing number of Scotland players in the English Premier League, we don’t have enough to fill a team just yet, but I firmly believe that you have to have your best players in the starting line-up. The system should fit the talent you have, rather than the other way around.

That’s why myself, Alex McLeish and now Steve Clarke have all had to find a way to get Robertson and Tierney into the side. You’ve got to play the two of them, you can’t have one sitting on the bench.

As long as the good players are on the pitch, you have a better chance of winning. There’s no point in playing a system if you have two great strikers where you only play one, and your second best player is sitting beside you on the bench.

Uruguay played two strikers because they had Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani up front, so they played a 4-4-2 diamond, because they have two great strikers. It’s whatever suits you best. It just so happens we’ve got two great left-backs, so stick them in the team somewhere.

I played Tierney at right-back sometimes, but I also played him on the left of the back three against England, because he’s not scared to go and into people. The way you can play a left centre-back nowadays, you can still go forward to a certain extent as well, so it doesn't dampen his attacking instincts too much either.

You have to find a system that accommodates your best players, and it’s no mystery why it’s the players from the English Premier League, Celtic and Rangers who more often than not find their way into the Scotland squad. It’s because they’re the best players.