BARRY Bannan has expressed his gratitude for the backing of both Gordon Strachan and the Tartan Army as he establishes himself as a key figure in the Scotland side.
The Crystal Palace midfielder made his third consecutive starting appearance for the Scots in Friday’s goalless draw with the USA at Hampden, his lively contribution earning the acclaim of the home fans with whom he has become a favourite.
“Fans take to attacking players and to players who are going to make things happen,” said Bannan. “Luckily I come into that category. So when you have got the gaffer and the fans behind you, it makes it much easier.
“The faith the gaffer has shown in me is a big encouragement for me. I’m playing games at club level now, which obviously helps. But he has been brilliant with me ever since he became Scotland manager, giving me games even when I haven’t been playing at club level. So every time I go out there, I am playing to try and stay in that team and to try and win games for the gaffer.”
Bannan hopes to win his 16th cap against Norway in Molde tomorrow night as Scotland look to wrap up their 2013 programme of fixtures with a victory.
“Tuesday night is going to be a big game for us,” said the 23-year-old. “People say it’s just another friendly, but we are on a run at the moment where we are going strong, so we don’t want that to end. We want to get into a winning habit, which will be good for us going into the next qualifying campaign.
“The game against America was tough. We watched videos of them before the game and they didn’t look as good as they were on the night. But we will take 0-0, because a year and a half ago they beat us convincingly 5-1. So I think we can take positives from Friday night.
“It was another step in the right direction. It was a tough game against a top team in the rankings. They are going to the World Cup, so it was good to put ourselves up against them and see how far on we are.
“It’s definitely a strong squad that the gaffer is building. There have been a few call-offs but the boys who came in have done well. If we can get everyone together, free of injury, then I think we are going to have a very, very good team.”