THE succession planning at the SFA continues apace – for players if not managers. It wasn’t long ago that the idea of Scot Gemmill stepping up from his Scotland Under-21 post to replace Gordon Strachan in the hot seat for the full national team was thought to be gaining currency, but here the 47-year-old was at Hampden, dutifully naming his squad for next Friday’s qualifying trip to Andorra. That is the same night Alex McLeish takes charge of the maiden match in his second stint with Scotland, having asserted his primacy over a couple of Gemmill’s key players.

Certain nations across the globe, not least of them England, have prospered by promoting from within – Craig Brown once did likewise when stepping up as our Under-21 boss – but Gemmill is aware that profile goes a long way right now when it comes to landing the top job in the country. And he quite simply doesn’t have it. As flattered as he was to be talked up, Gemmill insists he is happy with the job he has got.

“It’s the national team and I understand there is a huge interest in it,” said Gemmill. “I was very flattered and hopefully it shows the work I have done at youth-team level is recognised in some way. Mind you, I think everyone was the favourite at one point! Everybody just wants the national team to do well. They have made their decision and everybody is trying to help the manager and staff achieve that.

“You know as well as I do, a lot goes into the mix,” he added. “I would have to say my profile is not high. I’m not perceived that way right now but I’m working very hard to help the young players. There are very, very few coaches in the world - literally a handful - who can choose where they work. I’m not one of them.

“But I think I’ve got a great job, I really do. I’m more appreciative of my job now than ever before. To work with the best young players in the country, it’s a really good job. I’m really fortunate in that way. I’m really looking forward to carrying on.”

Losing players to the top team is both a drain for an Under-21 manager and a sign that he is doing his job correctly. This time around, the two young men in question are Oli McBurnie, the on-loan Barnsley striker who was recently made Championship player of the month for February, and Scott McKenna, the Aberdeen centre half. Both were included in Alex McLeish’s squad for the friendly against Costa Rica, with Gemmill yesterday drafting in three recruits of his own in the form of Dundee United goalkeeper Josh Donaldson, Robbie Muirhead of MK Dons and exciting Chelsea winger Harvey St Clair. Such is the chance for a new broom with the full national team, some might suggest Gemmill is fortunate still to have the services of John Souttar of Hearts, Greg Docherty of Rangers and Lewis Morgan, of Celtic, on-loan at St Mirren.

“Could Alex have taken more?” said Gemmill. “Absolutely, and don’t think for a minute that I could have stopped him. That is the nature of the beast, that is why the Scotland Under-21 squad exists, doesn’t it? To try to get players ready to play. There will be no complaints in that regard, not at all. Alex has got Peter Grant who has been with the 21s. And he has already shown a real interest in the youth teams himself too. Not only with the Under-21s, but the Under-19s and the Under-17s as well, he is prepared to dig deep and go and attend games.”

St Clair was born in London but, unlike Scott McTominay, has already appeared for Scotland at Under-17 and Under-19 level. “If you come and play for the Scotland Under-17s in a tornado in Ireland you’ve got to be keen,” he said.