Nathan Patterson opens up on injury after routine Dele Alli challenge, surgery, Everton assurances and Scotland

Nathan Patterson would have been excused for thinking he was cursed when, at the start of April, he made what appeared to be a routine challenge on Dele Alli near the end of an Everton training session.

Scotland right-back Nathan Patterson during a training session at Oriam in Edinburgh in preparation for Wednesday's UEFA Nations League match against Armenia at Hampden. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)
Scotland right-back Nathan Patterson during a training session at Oriam in Edinburgh in preparation for Wednesday's UEFA Nations League match against Armenia at Hampden. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

Perhaps there was some additional zest and enthusiasm from the 20-year-old who had been informed by club manager Frank Lampard he would finally be making his Premier League debut the following day against West Ham United.

But that scenario was shattered along with the ligaments in Patterson’s ankle as he suffered an injury which required surgery. He is now ready to make his return to action in Scotland’s UEFA Nations League opener against Armenia at Hampden on Wednesday night, itching to make up for lost time and the lack of minutes he has had on the pitch since making his £12 million move from Rangers to Everton in January.

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“I knew straight away it was a bad one,” he reflected. “It was the last five minutes at the end of training and I was due to play the next day. I had waited a long time for the opportunity.

Nathan Patterson has won eight caps for Scotland since breaking into the senior squad under Steve Clarke last year. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“But these things happen in football. It was just unfortunate, a block tackle and I went over on the ankle and snapped ligaments. Dele came straight up to me after training and apologised but it wasn’t his fault.

"It was my first proper injury, my first surgery. It’s another thing to experience in my career and I’d rather it came early and then I can push on when I’m fit.

"When you experience setbacks and disappointment when you’re young, you are going to then be used to it when stuff like that happens when you’re older. It stands you in good stead for when you are pushing on in your career.”

Patterson’s resilience has certainly been tested since he joined Everton where his only taste of first team action so far was 45 minutes in an FA Cup tie against non-league Boreham Wood in March.

Nathan Patterson, pictured during a Premier League 2 match for Everton's under-23 side against Tottenham in January, has made just one first team appearance for the Goodison Park club so far. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Signed during Rafael Benitez’s tenure, Patterson remains upbeat and confident of his prospects of eventually becoming a regular fixture under Lampard.

“I have had a good few chats with him,” he said. “He was always making sure I’m ready, he didn’t want to throw me in at the deep end with the situation the cub was in fighting relegation.

“It was important we got as many points as we could to stay up. He wanted to make sure I was ready. But then when I was ready, I got injured. It’s unfortunate but it happens and I look forward to pre-season.

“He likes young players and wants to develop young players and bring them through. He wants a young squad so I’ll make sure when I go back for pre-season I hit the ground running and give them something to think about.

"When you’re a footballer you just want to play as many games as you can so you can get yourself into a good run of form and so you can play well. Obviously I’ve not had that yet, and I’m looking forward to the time when I can get that.

“But I’m still young, I’ve still got a long contract at Everton as well, so I’ll keep working hard and when the time comes, I’ll be ready.”

Patterson faces the challenge of dislodging Everton legend Seamus Coleman from the right-back slot but feels he has already benefited from working alongside the 33-year-old whose Republic of Ireland side will face Scotland in Dublin on Saturday.

“He’s a good guy,” he said. “When I first went in the door he was always speaking to me and making sure I was okay. We’ve had a good few chats and in training he’s always very positive.

“He’s a great player himself, a good experienced player, so he was vital at the end of the season. He knows what it’s like to be a young player trying to break into the team, and there’s obviously good competition.

“I had that previously at Rangers with James Tavernier, so I’m used to it, and it’s good to have that competition to push each other on. Seamus has been great with me.”

One manager who needs no convincing of Patterson’s ability is Scotland boss Steve Clarke who called him into the senior squad ahead of the Euro 2020 finals last summer.

Patterson was unable to reach optimum fitness in time to play in last week’s World Cup play-off semi-final defeat against Ukraine at Hampden but is eager to help Scotland bounce back by making a bright start to a Nations League campaign which can enhance their prospects of reaching the Euro 2024 finals in Germany.

“It’s great obviously for the national team gaffer to have the confidence and belief in you,” added Patterson.

“You can only take that onto the pitch and use it as motivation and confidence as you know that the manager believes in you, even though you know that might not be getting the amount of games at club level you’d want and personally need.

“When you’ve got a manager who believes in you and puts you in the team from the start, that’s only going to benefit you.

”Last week was disappointing. It was a one-off game, sometimes they go the way it did, other times you get the luck to get through to the next round.

“It was just frustrating that I wasn’t able to play and help the team. But I have worked hard for the past six weeks to get myself into the place I am now so I think I’m ready to go.”

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