WHEN Scott McTominay pledged his allegiance to Scotland last season after enjoying an extended run in the Manchester United first team there was a flurry of excitement among fans of the national side.

Yet, subdued displays for his adopted homeland against Costa Rica at Hampden and Peru in Lima left many members of the Tartan Army scratching their heads and wondering what exactly all of the fuss had been about.

There were even unfair and unkind suggestions that his sudden rise to prominence at Old Trafford had been purely down to the bitter rift that had developed between egotistical manager Jose Mourinho and his precocious record signing Paul Pogba.

Social media snipers down south have gone even further in recent months by cruelly branding him “McTalentless”.

McTominay, though, showed with his individual display for United in the remarkable 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in France on Wednesday night that he not only deserves to be playing for such a big club at such a high level but also has a huge amount to offer his country in the years to come.

Indeed, his display against the likes of Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and Marco Verratti in midweek has increased his chances of starting for Scotland in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier against Kazakhstan in Astana later this month considerably.

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The 22-year-old only got the nod to play in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 tie because his caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was without no fewer than 10 players, including his entire midfield, due to illness, injury and suspension.

However, the Lancashire-born and raised Scot more than justified his selection; he was one of the Norwegian’s standout performers on an extraordinary night in the Parc des Princes.

His individual statistics tell the story of his stunning showing. He misplaced just two of his 27 passes, won all five of the tackles he put in, more than any other player on the pitch, and made five interceptions as the visitors became the first team in Champions League history to recover after losing 2-0 at home and go through.

That wasn’t an isolated showing from the young man who signed a new contract that keeps him at the Premier League giants until 2023 either. He has featured far more regularly under Solskjaer in recent weeks than he had under Mourinho this term. His influence has only grown.

Arthur Albiston, the former United and Scotland defender who now works as a summariser for MUTV when they screen reserve and academy teams, has followed McTominay’s career closely over the last decade.

He always believed he was good enough to play for his former club, never subscribed to the widely-held view that Mourinho was only giving him game time to deliberately rile Pogba as their relationship steadily and publicly deteriorated, and is confident he can star for Alex McLeish too going forward.

“Scott didn’t just play, he played really well,” he said. “They needed him with the suspensions and injuries they had. He did a fantastic job. But that is the case whenever he comes in.

“He hasn’t played a lot of football. It is difficult when you haven’t had a run of consecutive games. He is trying to impress a new manager as well. He did remarkably well on a stage like that away from home in Europe.

“Scott did a great job for United in the holding role. He looked like an experienced midfield player, not a young lad. He knows how to break up the play, he gave away a few free-kicks at the right time. It was an accomplished performance. He is in on merit. He wouldn’t get a game for any other reason.

“You can hang your hat on him to do a job for you in the middle of the park. For somebody who hasn’t played a lot of football he gave a tremendous performance. Mourinho was alleged to have used him to get up Paul Pogba’s nose. But he is in there on merit. He wouldn’t have got a game otherwise.”

French superstar Pogba missed the game in his homeland after getting sent off in injury-time in the first leg. Albiston believes McTominay can retain his position in the starting line-up, both domestically and on the continent, when he returns. He feels the two complement each other nicely.

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“There is no doubt the can play together,” he said. “Paul has different attributes. He has a very silky touch for such a tall guy and he is very nimble on his feet for somebody so tall. He reminds me of Eric Cantona in many respects. He is a bit of a showman as well. You need that, need players who are prepared to take the ball in tight situations and try something.

“Scott brings different things to the side. He can do the same job that Darren Fletcher did in a great United side that was so successful. His team mates would be the first to admit that they needed a player like Darren who can get the ball for them. I am sure the current players will say exactly the same thing about Scott. He has shown such experience for somebody so young.”

Albiston feels the comparisons with Darren Fletcher, another defensive midfielder to come through the youth ranks at Carrington and play for both United and Scotland, are unavoidable.

“They are very similar,” he said. “They are both tall and gangly. Sometimes they can look a bit ungainly when they are coming up against guys who are six or seven inches smaller than them.

“I watched him coming through the youth teams and he had to play in different positions, including a few games up front, because they were short of strikers. He dealt with it fine. He probably understands the service the front players want as a result.

“We cover most of the academy games on MU TV. I had done that for the last 12 years or so. I have seen most of the young players come through. Being able to play in three or four positions is not a bad attribute to have. Sometimes you can get taken for granted. But it will do him no harm.

“He played up front for the best part of a full season. It is not a bad thing to do when you are learning the game. He is benefitting from that now, he is aware of what is going on around about him.”

Edinburgh-born Albiston played for Scotland on 14 occasions – including in the final group game of the Mexico ’86 against Uruguay when Sir Alex Ferguson preferred him to current manager McLeish.

He is hopeful the high level that McTominay, who has won five caps since making his debut in March last year, is playing at with a resurgent United side will help him to perform well, possibly even as a starter, for the national team.

"Thirty years ago or so and there were a lot of Scottish boys playing for English clubs," he said. "More importantly, there were a lot of boys getting good experience playing in European competition with Scotland. Guys at Aberdeen, Dundee United, Rangers and Celtic were all getting good experience. It all benefits you when you play internationally.

"It is difficult to get experience like that. But I would like to think United are going to be playing at that level for a few seasons to come. That will benefit Scotland."