Chelsea's Feruz picked for Scottish U21s

Billy Stark cautioned against expecting too much from Islam Feruz despite naming the 16-year-old in his Scotland Under-21 squad.

Football News: Stamford Bridge

The Chelsea youth player, who came to Glasgow from Somalia as an asylum seeker in 2001, will become the youngest representative at this level for Scotland at 16 years and 197 days if he features at Easter Road next Wednesday, beating the record currently held by Christian Dailly, who was also 16.

The forward's progress has been followed with interest after he was spotted by Celtic aged 10. The late Tommy Burns, when head of the club's youth development set-up, helped lobby immigration officials to let Feruz and his family stay in Scotland when he was 12 after they were threatened with deportation.

Feruz was first called up to the under-17s when he was 14, after rules were changed to allow the home nations to pick players with five years schooling in their adopted country, and has played for Chelsea reserves.

The Barclays Premier League club paid a fee to Celtic after persuading him to leave the Glasgow club in September last year.

Still a schoolboy, Feruz last month scored in the first leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final as Chelsea progressed past Manchester United.

Stark said: "He has obviously had a fair bit of publicity over the last few years. It's a good story, as an asylum seeker qualifying to pay for us at international level.

"He has played under-17 and played in the Victory Shield before. He has been there from the first steps.

"Mick Oliver, our international scout, and (performance director) Mark Wotte have seen a bit of him in the last couple of weeks and brought back good reports.

"We felt it was a wee opportunity, with the nature of this game, to bring him in and have a look at him in and around the squad."

Feruz played last month for Scotland Under-17s in their UEFA Championship games and gets his chance with the likes of Jordan Rhodes left out of the squad.

Stark said: "It's early stages. I talk about under-21 players and hold back a bit about giving them too much build-up.

"He is only 16 so he's a very young one and I don't think you can ever be absolutely sure.

"You can only judge them on their talent just now. He is a very talented boy, there is no doubt about that.

"He has to learn about all the other things that go along with becoming an important first-team or international team member.

"It's an opportunity for him to come in and get a feel for what he's about."

Feruz is one of seven players in the squad who are uncapped at this level.

Celtic pair Lewis Toshney and Dylan McGeouch, Rangers midfielder Rhys McCabe, Rochdale goalkeeper Matthew Edwards, Aberdeen left-back Clark Robertson and St Mirren midfielder Kenny McLean complete the set.

Huddersfield striker Rhodes and Hull midfielder Tom Cairney have been left out as their teams push for play-off places.

"Jordan has had a full season, and what a season he has had," Stark said.

"They are right in the mix, they are going to be in the play-offs, so I felt it would have been a wee bit cheeky to ask for Jordan.

"He has got nothing to prove to us so that allows us to have a look at one or two others."

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