CHARLIE Mulgrew declared himself as “desperate” as any Scotland player to face Republic of Ireland in next Saturday’s crunch Euro qualifier in Dublin following his return against Qatar.
The Celtic defender picked up a hamstring tendon injury early in December which kept him out of the friendly against Northern Ireland and the Group D qualifier against Gibraltar in March and indeed, he did not return until the Hoops’ last two Scottish Premiership games.
Gordon Strachan gave welcome game time to the 29-year-old and some other players whose domestic season had finished a month ago in the Vauxhall international challenge match at Easter Road on Friday night.
In a game arranged as a warm-up for the trip to the Aviva stadium, Mulgrew came through with flying colours in the 1-0 win which came courtesy of Matt Ritchie’s first Scotland goal.
With attention now turning to the trip to Dublin where the Scots look to complete the Group D double over Martin O’Neill’s men, Mulgrew stressed his desire to be involved.
“Of course, everybody wants to play in it,” he said in a Scottish Football Association’s official twitter account video.
“It is a big squad and we are all fighting for places and I think that brings out the best in everybody.
“You saw against Qatar everybody fighting for their place so I’m desperate to be involved next week as much as anybody else who was out there.”
While Mulgrew hopes to keep his place, Strachan’s starting line up will be different next week.
Steven Whittaker, Russell Martin, Andy Robertson, James Morrison and Steven Fletcher could all come back as Scotland look to open the gap over the Irish to five points which would be a significant step towards qualifying for the France finals.
At the halfway stage of the qualifying campaign, the Scots are in third place on 10 points, behind Germany on goal difference and one point behind leaders Poland.
Mulgrew was pleased enough with the display and result against Qatar but knows the encounter in Dublin will be something altogether more challenging.
“It is always good to win and also to get a clean sheet,” he said.
“It is a positive result for us.
“There is a lot we could have done better, we know that as a squad.
“But we are happy with some of the play. We created chances and didn’t give much away at the back so we are happy with that and now we move on.
“The game in Ireland is a whole different game and we will prepare for that this week.”