Nathan Patterson: Scotland v Ukraine fitness verdict as Everton ace earns Alan Hutton comparison

Nathan Patterson is on course to win his race to be fit in time for Scotland’s World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden on Wednesday.

The Everton right-back has not played since winning his eighth cap for Scotland against Austria in March, suffering an ankle injury in training with his club shortly afterwards.

Patterson was initially rated as highly doubtful to be ready to face Ukraine and his absence would be another blow for Scotland manager Steve Clarke who has already lost Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney to injury.

But Patterson was able to take part in training with the Scotland squad at their Edinburgh base on Sunday with coach Steven Naismith providing an optimistic update on his situation.

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“Nathan’s got a chance because he has been on the pitch,” said Naismith. “The next two days will be more important for him in terms of seeing where exactly he is at.

“From what has been done so far, you’re not going to really get an idea. He’s going to turn up and be buzzing to be involved and the first few days he gets out there and it’s all great.

“It’s then how he recovers and how he feels and that will determine whether he’ll be involved or not.

“He’s modified in terms of what training he is doing at the moment but with most players it’s guided for what they need.

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Nathan Patterson (left) in training with Scotland at Oriam in Edinburgh on Sunday ahead of the World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden on Wednesday. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

“There are going to be parts he has to hit because that will declare whether he is feeling fine to play or not.

“But there doesn’t seem to be any issues with that.”

Patterson has been a stand-out performer for Scotland and Naismith has no concerns over the 20-year-old’s capacity to deliver another high level display this week despite the lack of game time he has had since making his £12 million move from Rangers to Everton in January.

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“100 percent, it’s in him,” said Naismith. “Even when he was at Rangers he didn’t play too many games so from that side of it he has that natural fitness.

Scotland coach Steven Naismith gives instructions during a training session at Oriam in Edinburgh on Sunday. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

“In that sense I see him like Alan Hutton, who went through periods in his Scotland career where he didn’t play a lot of football.

“He was out of the picture at Aston Villa for a long time but he still came and performed, and performed very well.

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“If Nathan is fit and in the starting eleven you’re not worried at any point if he is going to play well or not, he has that natural youth and enthusiasm.

“And how big this game is, he’ll easily manage to perform.

“There’s a lot of similarities with him and Alan Hutton as a right-back, I definitely think so.

“He’s very rangy, he’s comfortable going forward, he’s as much of an attacker as he is a defender.

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“He’s a guy who is on that upward trajectory. I know from speaking to him getting injured at Everton at that time was a killer for him.

“He was potentially going to get his chance there, he had been playing so well for Scotland.

“He’s done all he can to be here this week and it just shows you the belief the players in the squad have got that they can progress to the World Cup finals.”

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