Lee Wallace has expressed his desire to remain with Rangers for the rest of his career, insisting his commitment to the Ibrox club will always take precedence over his international ambitions.
The Rangers captain has just over a year remaining on his current contract and revealed he is keen to sign a new long-term deal.
Wallace has been a model of impressive consistency this season as Mark Warburton’s side have sprinted clear at the top of the Championship and reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, where they will face Celtic next month.
But the 28-year-old’s form has still not proved sufficient to earn a recall to the Scotland set-up as he was omitted from both of the two separate squads named by manager Gordon Strachan for the challenge matches against Czech Republic and Denmark during the current international break. That leaves the former Hearts left-back free to lead out Rangers against Queen of the South at Ibrox this afternoon, when they will look to move a step closer to securing automatic promotion to the Premiership.
But Wallace, who has not played for Scotland since winning the most recent of his eight caps back in November 2013, still does not rue the choice he took to remain with Rangers following their financial collapse and repositioning in the bottom tier of Scottish football four years ago.
“I was asked before if I thought international football would be sacrificed due to my decision to stay at Rangers,” he said.
“If that is the case, then it’s a fair sacrifice for me. I can look myself in the mirror and happily accept that.
“There hasn’t been a moment’s regret from the minute I chose to stay with Rangers. It was all part of a plan and that’s going in the right direction.
“If international football isn’t going to come back into my career because I’ve stayed here, then I accept that.
“I’ve not been involved in the Scotland squads for the whole Euro 2016 campaign that just passed, so I wasn’t expecting to be in these ones. So there’s really no point in me talking about a squad I haven’t been in for a long time.
“It’s more relevant for me to talk about Rangers, a team I train with every day and a squad I’m involved with. That’s the best way for me to channel any of my thoughts.
“I just concentrate solely on Rangers and that’s the way it’s probably going to have to be from here on in.
“I’m 28 now and would happily finish my career here, that’s something I’ve thought about a lot. If I am performing and doing well enough that the manager deems me good enough to stay, then great.”
Scottish Third Division and League One winners’ medals are the only tangible rewards Wallace has to show for his five years with Rangers so far. Since being appointed captain at the start of this season, he has become highly conscious of the gaps in the trophy cabinet which need to be filled if he is to live up to the historical expectations of his role.
On that front, he takes inspiration from one his predecessors and now the assistant manager at Rangers, David Weir.
“I’m well aware that, in Rangers’ history I’m the least well off in terms of being successful and winning medals,” added Wallace.
“I go back to Lee McCulloch, who was captain before me and was a part of successful teams here and won loads of things in the past. Then there are figures like Davie Weir and Richard Gough, who were also very successful.
“So the dreams and aspirations for me are to try to become like these people. Will we be as successful as these Rangers teams from the past? I don’t know, but maybe.
“Will I be as successful as those captains? I don’t know, maybe. The drive and the ambition is still there so that’s something I will certainly be fighting for. And you don’t need to look any further than David Weir and how he prolonged his career from being a top professional.
“I had one season playing with him, although we didn’t line up together too many times because of injuries to both of us, but he was an example.
“The way he acquitted himself, every detail from training to what he ate in the dining room every day, led to him prolonging his career. I have aspirations to be like him and play for as long as I can and if that’s here at Rangers, then perfect.
“Becoming captain has been an easier transition than I thought, I’ve relished the responsibility.
“The manager told me he thought I was right for it, which was huge honour and he just told me to enjoy the responsibility of it. It was a nervous moment but you have to rise to it.
“I’ve loved every moment of being captain and couldn’t wait to get back in and get going when we heard the manager and Davie were joining last summer.
“Having suffered as one of the players who was hugely involved in the bad season we had last year, I knew we had to put things right.
“There is a drive to do better and to impress, I’ve enjoyed making a contribution into how successful we’ve been this season. But there is a long way to go and plenty of hard work to come.”
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