Hearts defender Callum Paterson will receive only nine days off this coming summer - and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The young right back was recently called into Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad for the friendly double-header against France and Italy. With the first match taking place at the end of this month, and Paterson’s season with Hearts just finishing on Sunday after the 2-2 draw with St Johnstone, it means he’ll get only four days off before the Scotland get together.
The call up has been a reward for Paterson at the end of a strong season, both for the player and his club as Hearts ended the campaign in the European places after coming up from the Championship. It means their season will begin on 30 June when they embark on the first leg of their Europa League adventure.
After coming back from his international duties, Paterson will receive only another five days in which to relax and recharge his batteries before he’s back to work with the rest of the Hearts squad on 15 June. Though it’s far from ideal, Paterson knows this kind of year-round dedication to the profession is what’s expected of athletes at the highest level.
“I have four days’ holiday with my girlfriend Sophie and then I come back to begin the preparations. I’ll need to go on a couple of runs in between just to keep myself ticking over,” said Paterson. “I will have another five days’ holiday after the Scotland games and then I’m back in again, so it’s going to be a hectic summer and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m only getting nine days’ holiday but I’m happy to make that sacrifice especially if I get a chance to play for my country.”
Paterson - who was born in London but raised in South Queensferry - was called up by Gordon Strachan while still a Championship player with Hearts last term. Though he never expected to play in the Celtic Park double-header against Ireland and England, it was a good experience to around the senior squad. Therefore, it was a bit of a blow to the 21-year-old that he missed out on a place at the last international break due to injury, when Strachan opted for two vastly different squads to experiment a little with uncapped players.
Paterson, though, remains hopefully that despite the quality of opposition awaiting Scotland in these two friendlies, the international manager won’t hesitate in giving him a chance.
“There is a lot of competition at right back with Steven Whittaker and Alan Hutton and they have both played about 50 games each,” admitted Paterson. “Hopefully I can get my chance to impress and earn my place in future squads.
“I’m hoping that the manager will use these games to blood as many players as he can and see what they can do.
“I will be great to play against two massive teams like Italy and France no matter that the score is and who you are playing against. They are both heading to the Euros so they will be up for it but we have to try to give them both a game and get a couple of results.
“It has always been a target of mine to get into the Scotland set-up and thankfully I have now been picked.”
THE SCOTSMAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA