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International Football Gone Mad, Spain Are Trying To Swipe A Scottish Youngster

International Football Gone Mad, Spain Are Trying To Swipe A Scottish Youngster
By Gary Reilly

We're used to seeing Ireland keep an eye on Scottish youngsters in the hope of some national link but now Spain are reportedly moving in on this tried and tested formula with a move of their own.

Jack Harper has long been touted as a future star of the Scottish youth set-up, something which tends to happen when you sign a five year contract with Real Madrid's youth setup as a 16 year old. Now recently turned 19, Harper has been making a name for himself with some impressive displays for Madrid in the UEFA Youth League and Scottish fans have been eager to see how he could develop with their youth teams.

However, because of a contentious decision taken by former Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia, Scotland fans may not get to see Harper in a Scotland jersey again. Sbragia, now manager of Scotland U19s, yesterday left Harper out of his squad to take on Austria, Italy and Croatia after he declared him a 'luxury' player that Scotland 'can't carry'.

At Real Madrid, Jack can float all over the place, which he does. But with us he has to be more disciplined.

He's an exceptionally gifted lad but we can't carry him. He can be a luxury sometimes. In some cases, if it's going well, he can be a good luxury. And listen, Jack's time will come.

I've gone for a physical side and runners. Hopefully I'm proved right in Austria. It's purely a tactical decision.

Given that Harper is 6ft 1', he's not exactly a shrinking violet and he has been compared to Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of skill and stature. However, Sbragia decided against including him and now Spain are sniffing around according to Harper's father.

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The day after Scotland announced the under-19 squad, and Jack wasn’t included, Spain were on the phone asking about his position and international status.

Their national academy is just a few miles from Real Madrid’s own training ground, so they know about Jack because they watch his team often enough.

Spain's interest in Harper is slightly different to the moves Ireland made to convince players such as Aidan McGeady and James McCarthy. Harper was born in Malaga to Scottish parents and his father has said that, despite the attention from Spain, he remains committed to Scotland, for the time being at least.

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Jack wants to play for Scotland. I’m Scottish, so is his mum and the rest of the family. He is committed to Scotland, but if nothing is happening by the time he is 21 then he will have a decision to make because he has a life and a career to fulfil. Hopefully, it won’t come to that.

[Daily Record]

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