There are clearly far worse ways to spend an international break than soaking up the rays in the luxury surroundings of Dubai as Scott Sinclair did with his partner Helen Flanagan last week.
But although the Celtic winger thoroughly enjoyed his few days of rest and relaxation amid a hectic period of the season for the Scottish champions at home and in Europe, he admits to a degree of frustration that he was not otherwise occupied in the service of his country.
Capped at every level for England from under-17 through to under-21, the closest Sinclair has come to senior international football so far was when he represented Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Having revitalised his club career in impressive fashion since his £3.5 million move from Aston Villa in the summer, the 27-year-old has not given up hope of earning an England call-up. Sinclair, who has scored ten times in his 20 appearances for Celtic so far, believes his performances at Champions League level hold the key to his prospects of attracting the attention of his national team.
“If I score a hat-trick next week against Barcelona, that might help my chances,” he said with a smile as he returned to training with Celtic at Lennoxtown yesterday.
Although the comment was made partly in jest, Sinclair is aware that it was stand-out displays in Europe’s elite club competition by which Fraser Forster previously confounded the widespread perception that playing for England is outwith the reach of anyone plying his trade in Scottish football.
“That’s the thing, it shows it can be done while you are up here,” added Sinclair. “It’s all down to me playing as well as I can for Celtic in the Champions League, and domestically as well.
“It was nice for me to get away for a few days but I definitely wish that wasn’t an option for me during international breaks. When I watch the England games, I still have ambitions to play for my country.
“All I can do is concentrate on what I’m doing now, keep on scoring and do as well as I can. I’ve never even been in an England squad before, not since the under-21s.
“There was a spell when I was at Swansea and it looked like I was going to be called up. But other than that, it’s not really happened.
“It’s been a frustration. At that time I thought I had a massive chance but then I went in and out of clubs and not playing and things like that. But now I’m on form, scoring goals and doing well. That’s all I can concentrate on for now. If the time comes, I’d be happy to play for my country.
“The main thing is the Champions League. Performing in Europe is the level you’ve got to be at. Apart from that, playing in the league and scoring well helps you. Hopefully if I keep doing that my time will come.”
While seeking England recognition was certainly not the prime motivation in Sinclair’s decision to move to Celtic, it is part of his overall desire to ensure he maximises his potential as a footballer. He admits an easy option would have been to remain less fulfilled on the pitch but more lucratively rewarded off it by remaining in England.
“It is still in the back of my mind to play for England but that wasn’t my main objective coming here,” he added. “It was just to get my football back on track and get that enjoyment back because when I was at Manchester City it was a tough couple of years.
“I had to decide whether I wanted to become the best that I could be or whether I wanted to just flutter and drift away from the game, because there are loads of players who have done that.
“You sign a nice contract and then you just flutter away but for me I am still ambitious. I am showing that. I made the decision to come here and bring my family up. It was a big decision but I haven’t looked back since and I am much happier now playing regularly and hoping the time will come when I do get an England call-up.
“There are loads of players out there – you get a good contract, it doesn’t work out and you live your nice life back home. It was disappointing because my girlfriend and I had built a nice house down south and it was ready to move into and that was another decision. But I can enjoy that after my career. At this moment in time I am wanting to get the best out of myself that I can, keep progressing and keep bettering myself. I want to keep that hunger in me to keep scoring goals as well.
“There is so much more to give for me. I have missed so many games at club level in recent years, so I feel that there is a bit of catch-up to do. I don’t have many miles on the clock. Even though I am 27, I still feel 21. That is the thing for me, to keep carrying on as I am, playing and scoring goals and picking up trophies along the way, then I can’t ask for anything better.
“When I was younger, I would always be looking years ahead but right now I am enjoying every moment of my time. I just want to play as well as I can for Celtic and hopefully my time will come to play for England as well.”
Sinclair is eager to pick up where he left off with Celtic as they enter a spell of three games in ten days in three different competitions. Friday night’s Premiership fixture at Kilmarnock is followed by next Wednesday’s crucial Champions League meeting with Barcelona at Celtic
Park before the Betfred Cup final against Aberdeen at Hampden the following Sunday.
“The games are coming thick and fast now, so I will feel the benefit of that break,” he said. “I feel refreshed and ready to go again. I’m a player who likes to play in every game and the manager knows that. I’ve got my confidence back since coming to Celtic and hopefully I can keep it up and keep doing the same as I’ve done so far.”