Scotland Under-19 manager justifies decision to omit Real Madrid starlet

Scotland Under-19's manager justifies leaving Real Madrid's Jack Harper out of his squad.

Scotland's Under-19 side will play Italy, Austria and Croatia in the UEFA Elite round this week, and they will be without Real Madrid’s Jack Harper.

The decision to leave Harper, who is being coached by football legend Zinedine Zidane, out was made by Scotland Under-19 manager Ricky Sbragia because he deems the Real Madrid youngster a ‘luxury player’.

Speaking to STV, Sbragia had to justify the decision to leave out the talented 18-year-old who has a five-year-contract with the Spanish giants and is highly thought of at the Madrid club.

He said: "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."

The Real Madrid player qualifies to play for Scotland through his parents who moved to Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol 20 years ago, with his older brother Ryan having played for Real Betis’s B team amongst others in the Spanish lower leagues.

Jack, who has scored three times in the UEFA Youth League this season, was close to signing for Sevilla when he was 13, but Real Madrid approached the player and he later signed on a one-year rolling youth contract before signing the five-year-contract he currently has.

While the former Sunderland manager’s decision to omit the Madrid player from the squad is somewhat understandable, the choice could see Harper opt to play for Spain if he continues to be left out by Scotland.

This being said, the midfielder has been quoted in the past as saying he wants to play for Scotland because his family is Scottish and he feels Scottish, and logic would dictate that he will soon be of a quality that Scotland can't ignore.

Sbragia will find out if his gamble pays off when the UEFA Elite Round comes to an end, with questions certain to be asked of him if Scotland underperform.

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