MARK Wilson has admitted that his ambition to play for Scotland had started to "dwindle" after being overlooked at the start of his Celtic career.
The defender enjoyed a day to remember on Tuesday when he scored his first goal for the Parkhead club, having been informed just hours earlier that he had been named in Craig Levein's squad for next week's game with Northern Ireland. If selected, it will mean Wilson will make his international debut at the age of 26, having made 30 Under-21 appearances.
He has appeared for a Scotland Future team but that was seven years ago. More recently Wilson was named in Levein's squad to play the Faroe Isles in November. His withdrawal due to injury continued a theme which has dogged his career.
However, Wilson is enjoying a run of form in the first-team with Celtic and exhibited his versatility on Tuesday night. He not only played out of position at centre-half against Aberdeen but also scored his first goal for the club in the 3-0 win. "I wanted to do it (play for Scotland] but injuries have prevented me from playing a lot here at Celtic and, obviously, that has hindered me getting international recognition," he said. "But I am very flattered and chuffed to be called up. I remember periods when I was playing for Celtic in the Champions League and playing pretty well and I was over-looked. That was disappointing. But look at me now. You just need to get on with it and hopefully you get recognised for it further down the line. A few years ago, when I first signed for Celtic from Dundee United, I thought: 'I am desperate to play for Scotland'. When I moved to a bigger club I thought it would automatically happen. It was foolish of me because it has not happened. As the years went by my ambition kind of dwindled."
Wilson has done a turn for his club manager, Neil Lennon, at centre-half, alongside fellow full-back Charlie Mulgrew. Both are on stand-by to deputise again this weekend against Rangers in the Scottish Cup as Celtic wait for injury updates on Daniel Majstorovic, Thomas Rogne and Glenn Loovens. "I played a few games at first for Dundee United at centre half when I was about 17 or 18 then moved out to right back so I have some experience," he said. "That was it until I played against Rangers at centre half last season. It's not the hardest position. I mean, you don't run about that much. You stand around for most of the game. But when you have good midfielders in front of you it makes it a lot easier.
"If they have a big guy up front and start hitting balls up to him then it's pretty difficult. But if you read the game well enough and have pace to get yourself out of a hole then it makes it a lot easier."