Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin says it would be an honour to represent Scotland on the controversial end of season trip to Mexico and Peru, writes Moira Gordon.
The 31-year-old has arguably been the most consistent keeper in the country this term and integral to Hearts’ impressive haul of clean sheets and, while many have railed against the long-haul friendlies, McLaughlin says he would be more than willing to forego holidays to get his first international cap.
Signed on a one-year deal at the start of this season, he has been offered an extension by the Tynecastle club but, keen to explore all options, he says it is too early to make a decision on his future.
Manager Craig Levein has revealed that other clubs have already expressed an interest and could offer the kind of financial inducements Hearts would be unable to match and, while McLaughlin says that would be one factor to consider, he insists it is not the only one, as he is loving his time back in his hometown and believes it may help his push for a Scotland cap.
“Some people have been mentioning things like that. For every footballer, that would be incredible. That’s the pinnacle of the football career. If you can make it into international squads. Since I’ve come here, that’s something that’s been brought forward a lot more than when I was down south. So, of course, that’s something that adds into it as well. There are places you could go where that would start to fade away again. But up here, you are right in the epicentre and that’s aiding that possibility.
“If anyone doesn’t fancy [Peru and Mexico], I’ll be around. There are no holidays booked and I’ve got all my jabs so if no-one else fancies it, I’d be up for it.”
The fact he has been part of a miserly backline, along with current international Christophe Berra and the vaunted John Souttar could also be an advantage.
“Sometimes that can play in your favour if a manager sees that,” added McLaughlin.
“We have seen with Celtic how many of their players play together with Scotland. That can add to your chances if they think there is a group or a nucleus that could slot right in and are used to playing with each other week in week out. It’s fantastic playing with those guys. At the moment, we are doing really well and people are saying good things about us. Long may it continue.”