Gary Mackay-Steven soaking up Scotland experience

Dundee United's Gary Mackay-Steven at Tannadice Park on Sunday. Picture: PA

Dundee United's Gary Mackay-Steven at Tannadice Park on Sunday. Picture: PA

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SCOTLAND new boy Gary Mackay-Steven revealed a hot bath and a massage following Sunday’s tempestuous Dundee derby will see him ready to take on Wales in Friday night’s World Cup qualifier at Hampden.

The 22-year-old Dundee United winger was called up to the senior squad for the first time by Gordon Strachan, who would have been wincing had he seen some of the tackles flying in during the 1-1 draw at Tannadice in which Dundee full-back Gary Irvine was sent off early with four Dees players booked.

Thurso-born Mackay-Steven was nursing a “few knocks” when he met the media at Scotland’s Mar Hall base on the outskirts of Glasgow but admitted it would have taken more than that to keep him out. “Ever since the squad was named I have been buzzing,” said the former Scotland under-21 player.

“I couldn’t wait to hook up with the rest of the squad, I am delighted to be here and I can’t wait for the week ahead

“I got a few knocks yesterday and I have a few sore bits but nothing that a hot bath won’t sort out.

“There’s also a couple of masseurs here who will sort me out, but I’m all right.

“It was a derby so you are going to get tackles flying in all over.

“There was a sending off [for a foul] on Richie Ryan and I got a few bumps and bruises but nothing more than usual to be honest.

“I am just delighted to be here, obviously.

“The squad is full of top-quality players so I am looking to mix with them and learn as much as I can from them and the coaches.

“No matter what, I know I will improve if I keep my head down and listen.”

Mackay-Steven discussed the “whirlwind” turnaround in his career in the past couple of years, admitting that international football was not on his radar when he was playing with Airdrie United before moving to Tannadice in 2011.

“Football is kind of crazy in that way, it can change quite quickly,” said the former Liverpool youth player.

“I was playing with Airdrie not too long ago and then went to United and it has been great ever since.

“It’s been a kind of a whirlwind but I have really enjoyed it and I hope it can continue.”

The Dundee United wide-man will try to avoid mentioning the Gareth Bale factor which is likely to become the theme of the week.

The Tottenham superstar scored twice when Scotland lost 2-1 to Wales in Cardiff in October but Mackay-Steven insists the Scots should concentrate on their own strengths in the return game.

“He is a player I admire. He is good to watch, he has got it all, really and showing it every week,” Mackay-Steven added.

“He is obviously a great player for [Wales] and performing really well.

“But we have a lot of top players who play every week at a really high level and capable of doing Wales a lot of damage so we will concentrate on ourselves and our strengths.”

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