John Collins is upbeat despite Scotland’s exit from the Euros and maintains that the experience of playing in a major tournament will help send the national team to the World Cup in Qatar next year.

The former Tartan Army midfielder dissected the defeat against Croatia, which ensured Scotland faced elimination from Group D, and while he believes that Steve Clarke’s side weren’t up to the standards required to qualify for the knockouts, there are plenty positives to take from the Euros.

He said: “Obviously it was disappointing, the result against Croatia and going out of the tournament, but there’s plenty positives for Scotland and we can look ahead to the future.

“There’s a good nucleus of players in the group now, and there’s a few in their prime with many good years ahead of them, and that can only help the Scotland team. Stevie Clarke has just got to keep working with them and keep developing them.

“But this group of players, the fans can be proud of. They’ve given us a lot of joy reaching this tournament, and it’s brought a lot of happiness and excitement to the nation.”

He added: “Everybody has had a taste of the major tournament now and had a nice summer, so it’s a case of trying to replicate this for the future and be part of these big tournaments moving forward.”

And Collins think it’s now a case of building on this experience to reach next year’s World Cup, and that one player in particular will be crucial to ensuring Scotland reach that goal.

He said: “I think in Billy Gilmour we have a great player there who is making us better. We’re always looking for players who can come into the squad and make an impact, and Billy is one of the players who has been able to do that.

“He has improved us in that middle zone of the pitch, so we’ve got that to look forward to in the next World Cup qualifying matches. There’s now competition for the positions in that midfield, but I’ll be very surprised if Gilmour’s not a regular for Scotland, as long as he’s playing regular club football.”

Collins gushed over the performance of Croatia and Real Madrid star Luka Modric during his side’s 3-1 win over Scotland at Hampden, who scored an outstanding goal to round off an impressive performance, but the former Celtic and Monaco midfielder believes that Gilmour, once playing regularly, can be Scotland’s own Modric.

He said: “Modric was a great example to young players. He was immense from start to finish. He knows how to get on the ball, and his manager gives him that. Good teams ensure their best players get on the ball and Croatia did that well.

“But going back to Gilmour, he can be our own Modric, or Xavi or Iniesta. We can look to build around him and give him the role that those types of players have. He knows how to get on the ball, his body language is fabulous, his touch and awareness is superb. And that’s the shining light of the tournament for me.”

When asked to sum up the tournament, Collins thinks it can be described as ‘exciting’, but also a case of ‘so close, yet so far’.

He said: “Exciting, for sure. The players were full of energy and commitment. At the same time, the tournament could be summed by missed chances and near misses.

“It felt like so many times we were on the verge of shouting ‘YES’, and then it was followed by exasperation! So many times, we never caught the shot right or just missed the target. Those little near misses, hopefully we can work on and will improve on in the future.”

He added: “But overall, they can be proud of themselves, they’ve conducted themselves so well both on the pitch and off the pitch. They’ve been excellent and it’s been a great boost for the country. It’s been a tough few decades not getting to the tournaments, so it’s been great for the whole country.”

Check out all the latest football betting odds at William Hill