Pass, move. Pass, move. Pass, move. It’s an all too familiar sequence of events for Brighton midfielder Liam Bridcutt. Only a select few, so gifted, can make a game of football appear so simple. He doesn’t overcomplicate things, turn on panic mode when in tight situations or pull off anything too ostentatious; Bridcutt is just a thoroughly tidy and polished individual whose subtle passes and controlled touches have become commonplace in his club’s play this season.
No wonder, then, that new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has selected him for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Serbia. Bridcutt was born in England but is eligible to feature for Strachan’s men through his grandparent. It’s a crucial step in the player’s progression to the next level and pays credit to the 23-year-old’s hard work the last few years.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Bridcutt. Having been at Chelsea since he was just a young kid, he rose up through the youth system and penned a professional contract six years go. Lots has happened between then and now, mind, as a host of loan spells followed before in 2010 he signed with Brighton. And so far it’s proved a very fruitful move.
44 appearances in his first season with the club, 49 last term – which saw him collect the club’s Player of the Season award after such wonderfully consistent performances throughout – and 35 so far this campaign. He has become the lynchpin in midfield, an integral part of Brighton’s defensive base and in Gus Poyet he has a very big fan.
Poyet, talking on Bridcutt’s international call-up, said:
I’m really, really happy for him. When any player gets their first call from the national team it is always special feeling. You go to another level when you become an international.
It’s not totally assured Bridcutt will feature for Scotland but Strachan has heaped plenty of praise on his new recruit and the midfield engine suits the country’s style very well. Stoke’s Charlie Adam hasn’t been included in the squad and except Wigan’s James McArthur, the national team lack a domineering presence in the midfield base. Bridcutt’s craft and guile could be the ideal answer to their midfield conundrum. He will supply energy and hunger in abundance.
Scotland’s assistant coach Mark McGhee reportedly carried out a detailed scouting programme on Bridcutt before alerting Strachan to his talents. So he knows enough about his mannerisms and key attributes to decide whether or not he plays a part. The duo, like many, were unaware the player was able to play for the national side but courtesy of the policy stretching to the grandparents in international football it could turn out a match made in heaven.
These World Cup qualifiers will be no walk in the park. Wales will provide a stern test and Serbia are no pushovers. It will be an exciting experience for Bridcutt whatever the result of the two matches (but of course that is significant) and he should grasp the opportunity with both hands. There is no doubt that he will, if handed the chance, shine and he has the ability to become a mainstay in the Scotland midfield for many a year to come.