Kenny McLean is going all out to catch the eye of Steve Clarke ahead of Scotland’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel at Hampden Park in March.
The Norwich City midfielder had to pull out of recent international squads because of injury – his last match was the 4-0 defeat at home by Belgium last September – but is as keen as ever to help the Scots reach their first major finals since the 1998 World Cup in France.
If Scotland overcome Israel on 26 March they will travel to face either Serbia or Norway in the play-off final five days later and McLean says that he is desperate to play his part.
The 27-year-old explained: “It is definitely in the back of my mind because it is going to be a couple of massive games, hopefully, for the country.
“I need to do as much as I can here at Norwich. Thankfully I have been playing a lot of football and hopefully I can continue that from now until March.”
McLean knows, though, that competition for places in the heart of Clarke’s midfield is tough. “There are so many midfielders, such strength and depth in that position and the manager has a good headache,” he added.
“There are midfielders playing at the top end of the game and it is great for him and our country.
“So hopefully he will see that I am playing well and I’m playing every week so I will be fit to go, hopefully.
“Everybody just needs to get their head down from now until then and get into as good form as possible.”
The former St Mirren and Aberdeen player – who signed for the Carrow Road club in January 2018 – is “100 per cent” confident that Scotland can go all the way to the summer finals, with recent victories against San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhstan to draw on for the visit of Israel.
He said: “I think everybody is confident. Anything can happen in one-off games and we have quality throughout the squad. We have played some tough games since the manager came in against Belgium and the likes.
“But we have acquitted ourselves well and it has been positive at times and we are obviously on the back end of few good results. We are confident going forward.”
Nir Bitton, meanwhile, believes Scotland and Israel will be evenly-matched going into their Hampden clash.
Due to injury, Celtic’s Israeli midfielder was not involved when Scotland lost 2-1 in their Nations League match in Haifa in October 2018, nor when the Scots got revenge with a 3-2 victory in Glasgow the following month.
“I think it is a 50-50 game,” said Bitton. “We showed in the past that we can beat them, we showed that we can compete with them.
“We will go to Glasgow and try to do our best and get a good result.
“It is going to be a tough match for us and for them. They have a lot of players who can hurt us and we need to be ready.”