David Templeton admits he wrote off any hopes of playing for Scotland in the foreseeable future when he signed up to help Rangers on their road back to the top of Scottish football.
The winger swapped life in the Scottish Premier League with Hearts for a drop down to the Third Division when he joined Rangers last summer. And the 24-year-old, who represented his country at Under-19 and Under-21 level, accepts that his Scotland career is probably on hold until Rangers are back in the top flight. Templeton said: “When I signed here, I gave up all hope on the Scotland squad for the first few years. If we do get back to the top level, and I’m playing regularly, maybe then I’ll get a sniff.”
However, Templeton is surprised that club-mate Lee Wallace has missed out on the chance to face England next month.
The Rangers left-back has been called up by Gordon Strachan in the past, while playing in the bottom tier, but failed to make the squad named yesterday for the clash at Wembley on 14 August. Templeton added: “Lee has been consistent for years now and I’m surprised he is not in the squad just now. I think he’s good enough to play for Scotland. Not a problem.” While his own international aspirations remain on hold, Templeton has the added frustration of being out of action for Rangers as well at the moment as he recovers from a thigh injury. But, as he helped to promote a friendly against Newcastle United on 6 August, he targeted a return to action in time for the English club’s visit to Ibrox.
He said: “I’m not fit yet but I’m hoping by the time this game comes around I’ll have a bit of game-time and be able to play part of the game and get my match fitness up. I had done a week of pre-season and went into the crossing after doing the running and I strained my thigh. It was just a niggly one and I’ve had to be careful with what I’m doing so that I don’t make it worse and tear it. Now I’m just trying to get my fitness back and doing a bit of extra running after training.”
Rangers’ competitive campaign begins this weekend when they take on Albion Rovers in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup. But it is the other two cup competitions which could potentially provide the return of the Old Firm derby this season if the two rivals are paired together.
And, despite the gulf in divisions, Templeton insists a meeting with Celtic this term would hold no fear.
He said: “Celtic are really strong just now but you don’t know how strong you are until you do play against them. If we do, we wouldn’t be scared to play them. Last season, we beat Motherwell rather convincingly [in the League Cup] and they were up at the top of the table at that time.
“With the signings the gaffer has made this year, it has made us a lot stronger and I think he’s still trying to get a few more. I think we do have a strong enough squad. Depending on who he brings in, it’s just going to make us stronger.”
Tickets for the Newcastle match went on public sale yesterday at £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for juveniles. There is also a family packages available (two adults and two children) for £35.
Newcastle will provide a solid test for Ally McCoist’s squad ahead of the new league campaign and plan to bring a strong pool of players to Ibrox. McCoist said: “We have enjoyed a positive pre-season so far and we are all looking forward to our final warm up match against Newcastle before the league campaign begins. Newcastle have a strong squad, packed with international players and they will provide a great test for our players. I am sure both sets of supporters will be keen to fill Ibrox and take in such a high profile game before the serious league business gets under way.”
It will be the first time Newcastle have visited Ibrox since the summer of 2010 when Rangers won 2-1 with goals from Kenny Miller and Steven Naismith and ex-Ger Peter Lovenkrands countering for the Barclays Premier League side.
Six years earlier, Alex McLeish took Rangers to St James’s Park when they played in the Gateshead Cup and lost 4-2.
The only occasion the two sides have met competitively was in the semi-finals of the now defunct Inter-City Fairs Cup in 1969 when Newcastle prevailed and went on to win the tournament, winning 2-0 at home after a goalless draw at Ibrox.