OLE Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed Manchester United following the departure of Jose Mourinho.
He was recently pictured with Scott McTominay as the youngster inked a contract which ties him to Old Trafford until 2023.
But the 22-year-old’s league appearances under the Norwegian interim manager have been limited to one, against Tottenham at Wembley last month as an 89th-minute substitute for Paul Pogba.
Comparisons between McTominay and former Scotland captain, Darren Fletcher, have been around since the former burst on the scene.
At the same stage of his career, however, Fletcher was a regular in the United side under Sir Alex Ferguson, and had 21 caps under his belt.
To date, McTominay has just five.
Stuart McCall, a Scotland regular in the 1990s when we were qualifying for major tournaments, and an assistant coach to Gordon Strachan three years ago, knows international football is all about having as many good players as possible at your disposal, creating a good team spirit around the camp and carrying that wee bit of luck every now and again.
Alex McLeish is the man tasked with that job right now, and it all kicks off next month with games away at Kazakhstan and San Marino.
McCall wouldn’t dream of telling Big Eck who should be in his squad.
But he does hope that McTominay can start playing regular games for United to give him a chance of reclaiming a place at international level.
A fine central midfielder in his day, McCall knows what’s required to patrol that area.
McCall also had the pleasure of working with Darren Fletcher, and believes he can be an inspiration to McTominay, as he showed great character, patience and determination throughout his career.
Now manager of Scunthorpe United, McCall told The Sunday Post: “Darren has played at the highest level for more than 15 years.
“It’s always pleasing to see a Scotsman do so well in England, and to achieve what he did with Manchester United only adds to the pleasure.
“Darren played around 350 games for United, won five league titles and the Champions League.
“To do all of that, and excel in the company of players such as Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane, David Beckham and Paul Scholes, speaks volumes.
“Because of the depth of squad United carried, Darren wouldn’t start every week.
“But when the games came around – the likes of Arsenal or Liverpool, home or away – Darren always had a place because Sir Alex trusted him 100%.
“Sure, his performance might not have been eye-catching, but he carried out an important role for the team that was valued by his manager and his team-mates, which allowed the likes of Giggs and others to roam into the final third and hurt the opposition.
“Darren is now coming towards the end of his career, whereas Scott is really just starting out.
“At 22, he has it all in front of him.
“I’m not sure how much regular contact there would have been between Darren and Scott when they were at United at the same time.
“But I’m sure Scott would look upon Darren as an inspiration, someone whose career he’d love to emulate.
“Scott was highly rated by Jose Mourinho, and that tells you all you need to know.
“He now needs to keep working hard, and wait for his chance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. It will come.
“Of course, Alex McLeish will want as many of his squad as possible playing regular football in the coming weeks.
“Maybe next month’s games in Kazakhstan and San Marino might come too soon for Scott, but you must never give up.
“If selected by Alex, Scott has the ability and temperament to do the job required.”
After United, Fletcher – who turned 35 on Friday – moved to West Brom and captained the club. He then transferred to Stoke City in the summer of 2017.
He was sidelined for a chunk of his career from 2011 to 2014 after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
For most, that would have signalled the end of their playing career, but Fletcher was determined not let the illness beat him and he battled back.
McCall recalled being on the Scotland coaching staff just after that period and said: “Darren was in the squads but didn’t start many of the games.
“But he never took the huff. He was always supportive and the ultimate professional.
“You could tell he had been schooled by Sir Alex Ferguson, and had the benefit of all the good habits of the players in the United dressing room.
“Whether it was eating lunch at the table in the dining room, or sitting with the lads during their downtime, Darren was a dream to have around the place.
“A manager could trust him to do the right thing at all times, and lead by example. That kind of thing is invaluable.
“I used to like having a chat with him. I enjoyed his company as he was so down to earth.
“Sometimes I’d ask him about football stuff, such as what Tony Pulis would do with the players during West Brom’s pre-season and stuff that like that. It was good to get different little nuggets of information.
“Darren just had a fantastic attitude to life and, without being soppy about it, it was great to see this young man fight back to full health and also back into first-team football.
“He deserved all of that.
“He has been capped 80 times by Scotland and it was just a great pity for him that he never made it to a major Finals with his country.”
All of Scotland hopes that is not the fate awaiting Scott McTominay!
Darren Fletcher is now assessing different things in preparation for when he hangs up his boots. He has been involved in media work and speaks articulately and with authority on the game.
McCall, though, would like to see him delve into the mad world of football management.
“I’m sure Darren could continue to play for another two or three years,” he continued.
“But it’s only natural that when you get into your mid-30s, you start to think about the next decade and what you’d like to do.
“I’m not sure if Darren has his coaching badges in the bag, but I do hope he does decide to give management a try.
“He really has a lot to offer and he would be such an asset to any football club, whether it be at first-team or academy level.
“He has played under some of the very best managers in the business and also had world-class players at his side. He knows what it’s all about.
“But he is also good at the media work, and there is a future in that area for him if he wants it. There is less pressure in that field and that can be an appealing factor.
“However, I hope he at least dips his toe in the water and has a go at the business I’m in.
“We need as many Scotsmen as possible operating in management!”