Stuart Armstrong may have been being coy, or perhaps he was the only person involved in Scottish football who hadn’t heard Kilmarnock striker and part-time pundit Kris Boyd’s criticisms of Malky Mackay’s Scotland squad.

For anyone else who has been living under a rock, the former Rangers forward slammed the inclusion of Aberdeen players in the national set-up, calling it a laughing stock and simply a ploy to shift tickets with the match being at Pittodrie.

Tonight, Malky Mackay will back two of those players through his actions by placing them into his starting line-up for their senior international debuts, in the shape of Graeme Shinnie and on-loan Celtic attacker Ryan Christie.

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Evening Times: Stuart Armstrong feels there is a good blend of youth and experience in the Scotland squad.

And in his words, their long-time friend Armstrong also backed the pair.

He may not have offered an opinion on Boyd himself, but he certainly launched a staunch defence of his teammates, insisting that their differing abilities will make each player a real asset at this level.

“I’ve known Shinnie for a long-time,” said Armstrong.

“We played against him a short time ago and although the game was comfortable in the end for Celtic, I thought he put in a very good individual performance.

“It is good to see because I have known him for a long time. He is a good guy and a good player.

“Christie is another boy I have known for a while. His dad used to take one of the Inverness teams the year below me.

“I have seen Ryan about for a good few years and he is a nice friendly face. I am close pals with him and it is good to have him in the team.

“When he was training at Celtic he was very good but sometimes competition there can be high. It is important to go and get games and now he is showing what a quality player he is.”

Read more: Malky Mackay set to hand Scotland debuts to on-loan Celtic forward Ryan Christie and Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack

The freshness around the squad with so many new faces coming in has been a fillip for Armstrong after the disappointment of sitting out the agonising conclusion of the last campaign through injury.

But an old face reappearing has been just as pleasing for the Celtic midfielder, with club teammate and captain Scott Brown presenting himself once again for international duty.

In Armstrong’s view, that blend of old and new can provide an exciting basis for the next Scotland manager, whoever they may be, to work with for the forthcoming tilt at reaching Euro 2020.

“It was a disappointing end for the team and not being involved was frustrating,” Armstrong said.

“Myself and Broony were very disappointed that we couldn’t be there to help the team get over that final hurdle.

“It is really nice to have him around the squad. He is a big part for Scotland and Celtic. He is a natural leader.

“As long as you can still play, and you have that hunger then you will want to represent your country and to try and get to the finals of a big competition.

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“We are looking forward to the new objectives and a new campaign. For the players and staff, it definitely feels like a new venture.

“Malky has been very good. The training has been really enjoyable. It’s been a short time together, only a couple of days. We’ve been getting used to a new style, but it’s been good.

“It’s a chance for new individuals coming into the squad and team. It’s about gelling together as a team and looking forward to being part of a new group.

“The boys who were part of the last campaign are here with a desire to go one better next time. The desire is still there, and you also have the new ambition of the fresh faces coming into the squad.

“As with any new manager coming in, every player wants to impress, keep their place in the team and come back time and time again.

“In the latter stages of the last campaign we showed what a good football team we are. The results were very positive. Within that, there are a lot of things to take positives from going forward.”

Armstrong’s experiences of international football so far have been rather mixed.

He had the exhilaration of a glowing tribute from former manager Gordon Strachan after his international debut against Slovenia, but that was offset somewhat by his mistake that led to England’s late equaliser at Hampden in June, and the frustration of sitting out the vital crescendo to the qualifying campaign.

The 25-year-old though still appreciates the warm words offered by Strachan, a man he says the players will miss.

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“That was a really nice compliment for him to give,” he said. “It was a really nice day for me, making my first start and winning my first cap. My family were there to watch and his comments after the game were the icing on the cake for me.”

The fact that tonight’s fixture is being played in the place where he spent his formative years isn’t something that Armstrong is giving any particular thought to, with his own mind preoccupied with what is sure to be a stern test against The Netherlands.

“This is obviously where I went to school but I have been around the block since and it doesn’t really hold anything special,” he said.

“I had five years at Dyce Boys Club. I have very good memories of my time there and played some good football with some good boys so that was nice.”