Experience Can Count For A Lot

05 September 2011 05:10
Billy Stark has more experienced players to utilise in the UEFA European Championships campaign this time around. Billy Stark has said before that his squad is there to get players ready for the A Squad and he accepts that he will lose a few as they are promoted to Craig Levein's side. Barry Bannan is just one recent promotee and others will follow. Stark usually has to scour teams for players who have not much first team experience. However, things are changing and he believes the current Scotland Under-21 stars could prove to be even stronger than those who reached the play-offs last time around. The Under 21s came within touching distance of booking their place at the UEFA European Championships only to lose out over two legs to Iceland last October. Now, as they prepare to play Bulgaria in their first qualifying game this time around, Stark hopes his new group will have even more to offer thanks to the amount of first-team game-time they are earning with their respective clubs. He said: "When you look back to the start of the last campaign, there are probably slightly more now that you could term as first-team regulars. As the campaign went on, the last group became first-team regulars but there are slightly more just now so that I think is a good indicator." Looking ahead to tonight's opening game, Stark added: "We are optimistic and there is a degree of confidence. I don't think you can be totally sure because you will find out in the games themselves. It's a new group of players and the opposition is going to be tough. It's a good challenge. We just have to do what we did last time in terms of just focusing on the next game. That's a big part of it, that the players can get that focus on what is required to win that one game. We will try to proceed in that manner." The young Scots have established themselves at their new base at St Mirren Park and will host the Bulgarians there tonight. Having somewehre to call home will help as Stark explained. he said: "We are hoping that is going to be an added ingredient. I must say that the venues we used the last time were all terrific and we were treated really well. But, the way it turned out, there was a situation for us to look at having a home base and St Mirren won out. We have done reasonably well in the games that we have played there, which is a good sign. It's a smashing stadium, it's a really good stadium for under-21s to perform in in terms of the size. That's all positive and we want to try to use it to our benefit."