CALLUM PATERSON wants to impress Motherwell manager Mark McGhee this weekend to enhance his chances of a Scotland call-up.
The Hearts full-back is a favourite to progress from Under-21 to senior squad next year and hopes to stake another claim in front of Gordon Strachan’s assistant.
Hearts travel to Fir Park on Saturday hoping to cement second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership. Paterson, who trained briefly with the full squad last year, explained why he is keen to put in a strong performance.
“We are playing Motherwell on Saturday so obviously it’s a chance to impress Mark McGhee. He’s a great coach who I worked with before when I was in the full squad,” said the 21-year-old. “Mark, the manager and Stuart McCall all took me to the side and gave me pointers. They told me what to do and how I’d impressed them and to continue what I was doing.
“But the Scotland Under-21s have a big campaign and we’re not sitting in a bad position, so I’m focusing on trying to take that with both hands. I’m also focusing on club football because we’re sitting second in the league, which is a great position for a newly promoted team to be in.
“I think we gained experience by playing in the Championship and that has helped us in the Premiership. It will only help my international chances if we’re in the top six because you’re playing against the best teams, so it’s a bigger stage. On a personal level, it has helped being in a settled position. When I was a kid learning to play in different positions I had no issues with it, but I want to hold on to right-back now.
“I watched the likes of Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker play there. Closer to home, the gaffer [Robbie Neilson] was a right-back at the club for a few years and he’s a good help and a good mentor. I’m an attack-minded player but the manager tells me to focus more on my defending.
“Full-backs are defenders first and they must try to keep a clean sheet. That’s why it’s good to have a defensive-minded right-back as a manager.”