At first glance, the evidence of Scotland U-20s' recent warm-up wins would suggest that very little has changed since they reached the UEFA European U-19 Championship final last summer.

The traits that won the hearts of the Polish public during that tournament have certainly been on display once again, with the Canada-bound Scots showing spirit, unity and attacking flair in disposing of Northern Ireland's U-21s (4-0), Austria (3-1) and the tournament hosts (2-1) in their last three matches before jetting out for the global showpiece.

There has, however, been a significant change in the core make-up of Archie Gemmill's squad, which is no longer dominated by a Celtic contingent that had made up a third of the European Championship pool. Now, with cruelly-timed injuries to Simon Ferry and Charlie Grant precluding the Bhoys duo from pulling on the dark blue jersey in Canada, Gemmill and coach Tommy Wilson are looking to another green-clad club to provide the squad's backbone.

Hibernian's youth system is certainly the envy of many British clubs, with the Edinburgh outfit's commitment to blooding youngsters and playing entertaining, attacking football having lent itself to producing a string of talented full internationals. The current Scotland set-up alone owes Rangers' Ian Murray and Kevin Thomson, Celtic's Kenny Miller, Lokomotiv Moscow's Garry O'Connor and Hibs' own Scott Brown to the Easter Road club's prolific conveyer belt of talent, and Brown's imminent £4.5 million move to Celtic is helping to bankroll a gleaming new training academy in the Scottish capital.

'A big influence'
As for the next generation of Hibs stars, no fewer than seven - Andy McNeil, Ross Campbell, Kevin McCann, Sean Lynch, Ross Chisholm, Lewis Stevenson and Steven Fletcher - are in line for a place on the plane to Canada when Gemmill and Wilson name their final 21-man squad. Of those, only Fletcher and McNeil, both regulars in John Collins' first team, played in the Scots' European Championship campaign, but according to Wilson, the form of their club colleagues has left them impossible to ignore.

He told "I'm really disappointed for guys like Ferry, Grant and Greg Cameron, who played a massive part in getting us this far. But you always know that there will be changes, and there are a number of players who would have forced their way in regardless. That's certainly the case with someone like Ross Campbell, who came in for two matches (Canada and Austria) and scored four goals.

"The Hibs lads have come on in leaps and bounds this season. You look at the likes of Ross, Kevin McCann and Lewis Stevenson, who weren't even in the running to play in Poland, but who've now made it so difficult now for us to leave them out. It's a great credit to Hibs and a real feather in their cap that they're providing us with such a large group of players. With the form that these lads have been showing, they'll definitely have a big influence on how we get on in Canada."

Sean Lynch is currently among the front-runners to fill the considerable void left by Grant, the combative red-haired midfielder whose passion and never-say-die spirit came to personify the Scots in Poland. Lynch, 20, has also proved versatile enough to deputise at full-back for the Scots when required, and he is in no doubt that the grounding he has received at Easter Road has enhanced his international prospects immeasurably.

He said: "The fact that we're all here is a tribute to what Hibs are doing in terms of bringing young players through the ranks rather than spending lots of money on foreign players. The club's very good for introducing the young lads to first team training at a very early age, so it means you develop a lot more quickly. I think we've certainly gone from boys to men a lot faster than we would have at some other clubs."

Moroccan voice of experience
Campbell, the in-form striker whom Wilson suggested has fired his way into the final 21 is of the same opinion, and he has been gratified to find that his club's commitment to good football is replicated at national level.

"I think there's a bit of confidence in the squad that we can do well in Canada," he told "We're going with a good reputation because of reaching the final in Poland, and hopefully we can show the world that we're a good team. Our passing game is definitely going to surprise a lot of people, I think. At Hibs, we're just not allowed to play long balls - it's all short, sharp passes - and it's the same here with Scotland. Here, it's all pass-and-move, possession football, probing for an opening, and maybe that will go against some people's expectations."

For these players, the biggest shock is that they are in the frame to make the squad at all, although having received advice from a couple of U-20 experts in the Easter Road dressing room, they now intend making the most of an opportunity to shine on one of the game's biggest stages.

As Lynch said: "You couldn't complain if the boys who did so well in the European Championships were given the nod, they've maybe earned that right. But our chance looks to have come and hopefully we've done enough to force our way into the final squad.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for us. We were speaking to Benji (Abdessalam Benjelloun, a team-mate at Hibernian), who got to the semi-finals of the last U-20 World Cup with Morocco, and he said this tournament is just unbelievable. We also have a Canadian lad at Hibs (Keegan Ayre) and he says there's an incredible amount of hype surrounding it over there just now, so it's all pretty exciting. I don't think many people realise how big the competition really is to be honest, and I just hope we get to experience it all first hand."