Callum Paterson fancies U21s Euro 2017 chances

Scotland U21 international Callum Paterson in action for Hearts. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Scotland U21 international Callum Paterson in action for Hearts. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Callum Paterson believes the purpose of the Scottish Under-21s is to have fun after his goal was not quite enough to secure the victory over Ukraine needed to re-ignite their European Championship hopes.

The Hearts full-back is not among those who have now written off Scotland’s chances of reaching the 2017 European Championships.

Ricky Sbragia’s side remain in fourth place in the table, six behind leaders Iceland and are now struggling to even make a play-off. But Paterson has not ruled out a turnaround in fortunes.

“We didn’t lose the game, which is some sort of positive,” he said. “We would have done well to hang on or even score another one at the end. You can’t take the negatives from the game. You’ve got to take the positives.

“With six games left, there is plenty time to go. France are a strong team who will probably be the most difficult to beat but there are other teams who are about the same us so hopefully we can get a couple more results.

“A lot of things have been said but there is no pressure on us. We are the 21s not the first team so we are here to do a job, have fun and play football. That’s what we’ve done. 2-2 isn’t a bad result, especially against a strong Ukraine team so we’re doing well.”

Paterson, who is playing regular Premiership football with Hearts, is one of those hoping to make the step up to the full squad in time. He was heartened by Gordon Strachan’s presence on the sidelines last week.

“He has spoken to a few of the boys,” he said. “It’s great to have him here showing a lot of interest in the boys, looking at what’s to come in the future. It’s a bonus to get a goal in front of him.”

Hearts team-mate and former Rangers goalkeeper Neil Alexander has already tipped Paterson to succeed Alan Hutton as first-choice Scotland right-back.

“That’s coming from a very experienced professional who has played in the Premier League, the English Championship, won league titles, trophies, and played in Europe at the highest level,” said Paterson.

“He’s a friend at the club as well. He got a bit of stick from me, but it’s great when people talk highly of you, especially people who have played at a great level in the game.”