Callum Paterson eager for Scotland chance as Euro 2020 play-offs approach

Callum Paterson has targeted a return to the Scotland squad and firing Steve Clarke’s side to Euro 2020.

Paterson has yet to play for Scotland since Clarke was appointed manager in May 2019, with the Cardiff player’s last appearance coming in a Euro 2020 qualifier against San Marino two months earlier.

The versatile 25-year-old, who can operate as a full-back, midfielder or striker, missed the start of Clarke’s reign after undergoing ankle surgery following that San Marino win.

Scotland v Costa Rica – International Friendly – Hampden Park
Callum Paterson (right) is determined to play for Scotland again (Jane Barlow/PA)

But Paterson is now in the best scoring form of his season with three goals in as many starts for Cardiff, and has set his sights on next month’s Euro 2020 play-off tie against Israel.

“I haven’t been available for the last few squads and I’ve not been selected for the few before that,” said the 12-times capped Paterson.

“The onus is on me to give my all and put myself in the window for Steve, and hopefully get picked for the qualifiers.

“It’s a massive goal for me, as I see playing for the national team as the pinnacle of my game.

“I’m pretty patriotic about it. I’ll be the kit man if Steve Clarke wants me to be!

“But I’d like to play up front or as a 10. I’ve played for Cardiff at the highest level (Premier League) in those positions, and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity.”

Scotland finished a distant third in their Euro 2020 qualifying group behind Belgium and Russia.

But they had already booked a play-off spot through winning their League of Nations group, and are 180 minutes away from ending a 22-year wait to play at a major tournament.

Scotland v Kazakhstan – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
Scotland manager Steve Clarke is planning for the Euro 2020 play-offs (Steve Welsh/PA)

Scotland will welcome Israel to Hampden Park on March 26, with the winner playing away to Norway or Serbia five days later for a place at Euro 2020.

An added incentive for qualification is that Scotland would be one of the tournament hosts at Euro 2020, with two group games at Hampden and a third against England at Wembley.

“I played against England at Wembley before and they absolutely destroyed us,” said Paterson, recalling a 2018 World Cup qualifier between the two nations in November 2016.

“It was 3-0 before I came on, so I’d like to rectify that result. I think we’ve got an amazing squad on paper.

England v Scotland – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group F – Wembley Stadium
Scotland last visited Wembley in November 2016 and could play England there at Euro 2020 (Nick Potts/PA)

“We’ve just not jelled quite right at the moment. But we’re getting there, results have shown that recently, and I think the team could be really good.”

Paterson was just three when Scotland last qualified for a major tournament, the 1998 World Cup in France.

“It (qualification) is long overdue. We’ve had some great squads in the past and unfortunately we’ve just missed out,” he said.

“My dad’s always telling me he wants to see me play at a finals.

“He’s pretty proud of me, but playing in a major tournament would be amazing.”

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