Pressley says Academy system is way forward for Scots

More young talent like Craig Sibbald needs to be found

More young talent like Craig Sibbald needs to be found

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Steven Pressley says that Falkirk’s Academy system is the model that other clubs should copy if Scotland are to compete on the world stage once more.

The Bairns boss spoke out in the aftermath of another dismal set of results for Craig Levein’s Scotland side that means there is now virtually no chance of them qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

02-09-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Scottish First Division. Falkirk v Livingston. Steven Pressley.

02-09-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Scottish First Division. Falkirk v Livingston. Steven Pressley.

The 2-0 defeat in Brussels on Tuesday night, against a superior Belgian side packed with skilful young players, has prompted another bout of national soul-searching amongst fans and pundits about how Scotland can move forward and develop the kind of players needed to compete at the top level.

For Pressley, the problems in Scottish football are structural and cannot be blamed squarely on Levein.

“Belgium have invested a lot of time and money into the development of their young players,” he told Heraldsport.

“They completely re-examined their system of bringing players through and they are now reaping the benefits of that.

“I’ve said time and time again that we need to do that in Scotland.

“We’ve got the right idea here at Falkirk with the Academy, but a lot more work still needs to be done here and elsewhere.

“These problems go back a long way and will not be fixed by debating whether to sack the manager every two years.”

In recent years a steady stream of players have progressed from the Falkirk Academy straight into the first team, with several, such as Craig Sibbald, making their debuts when still only 16.

However fielding young players in first class matches early in their career has paid dividends for Belgium, with team captain Vincent Kompany making his international debut at 17.

But not every Scottish national team is as prone to failure as the senior side.

Evidence that the future could be brighter for the Scots was on display at The Falkirk Stadium on Sunday, as Ricky Sbragia’s under-19 team won a thrilling match against their Swiss counterparts 4-3.

Falkirk’s Stephen Kingsley was in the team as the Scots came from 2-1 down to triumph, thanks in part to a superb display from Islam Feruz.

The Chelsea player - the shortest player on the pitch on Sunday - has been widely-tipped as a great prospect, as evidenced by the London club’s determination to sign him from Celtic.

That win means Scotland narrowly won their preliminary qualification group for next year’s European Championships.

Two days before, The Falkirk Stadium was again the venue as the under-19s dispatched Romania 1-0.

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