McCor­mack misses LA stag for caps

Ful­ham striker, who has sac­ri­ficed US trip, in­sists thought of quit­ting did not cross his mind dur­ing Scot­land ex­ile


ROSS McCOR­MACK read­ily ad­mits he savoured spend­ing pre­cious fam­ily time with his fi­ancée and two young chil­dren dur­ing in­ter­na­tional breaks in the two years that he spent out of the Scot­land side.

There can, though, be no doubt­ing the Ful­ham for­ward’s com­mit­ment to his coun­try given what he has sac­ri­ficed in or­der to join up with the na­tional squad for their end-of-sea­son friendlies against Italy and France.

The 29-year-old, who is get­ting mar­ried in Spain when he re­turns from the dou­ble header in Malta to­mor­row and Metz a week to­day, should be in Los Angeles on his stag do at the mo­ment.

But he has cho­sen to re­main be­hind while his friends en­joy them­selves in the hope of adding to his 12 caps and two in­ter­na­tional goals against the renowned foot­balling na­tions.

“Peo­ple from the out­side prob­a­bly won­dered why I wasn’t in the squad and as­sumed I was in a bad place or my head was gone,” he said. “But it didn’t af­fect me be­cause when an in­ter­na­tional dou­ble header came up it was the only time you got a cou­ple of days off to spend with your fam­ily. When I wasn’t in the squad I was still get­ting a break and re­turn­ing to my club fresher. Al­though it’s still dis­ap­point­ing at least there was a pos­i­tive side to it. There prob­a­bly were times where I thought it wasn’t go­ing to hap­pen for me with Scot­land, but I’ve got two young kids and I en­joyed the time off to spend with my fam­ily.

“There comes a point where you think ‘Am I ever go­ing to get back in?’ But you can’t let it bother you and I don’t think I have. I was still chomp­ing at the bit to get back in­volved and when Gor­don and Mark (Scot­land man­ager Strachan and as­sis­tant McGhee) phoned to see if I fan­cied get­ting along I didn’t give it a sec­ond thought.

“I was on the next flight and it was the same with this trip. I had my stag do booked. I should be in LA now. But there was no hes­i­ta­tion. It was just a case of ‘Of course, yes’. A group of the lads are away on the stag just now. I booked the stag do just be­fore the last squad was named three months ago.

“To be hon­est, I didn’t even know that friendlies had been ar­ranged

be­cause I hadn’t been in any squads and I didn’t have any itin­er­ar­ies. I just thought ‘that’s a per­fect time, the sea­son’s fin­ished, just go away and en­joy your­self’. At that time, I still didn’t know about these games.”

There isn’t even any chance of the for­mer Rangers, Mother­well, Cardiff City and Leeds United striker ar­rang­ing an­other bach­e­lor party when he re­turns home. “No, time’s up, I don’t think the mis­sus will be hav­ing that one,” he said. “When we come back from France I’m fly­ing straight from Glas­gow to London to Spain for my wed­ding.”

McCor­mack made his first ap­pear­ances for Scot­land in more than two years when he started in the friendly in­ter­na­tional against the Czech Repub­lic in Prague back in March.

He was only called up be­lat­edly for that out­ing as a late re­place­ment for Steven Nai­smith af­ter the Nor­wich City man with­drew due to in­jury. How­ever, the player was un­de­terred by his late call-up for the match against their Euro 2016-bound hosts.

He promptly set up Ikechi Anya for the only goal of the game in the first half, which was no sur­prise to any­one who has seen him in ac­tion in the English Cham­pi­onship in the last two years.

McCor­mack has been a con­sis­tent per­former and a reg­u­lar scorer for Leeds and Ful­ham, who signed him for £11m two years ago, in the sec­ond tier down south. He has just been named as the Player of the Year at Craven Cot­tage for the sec­ond sea­son in suc­ces­sion.

It is no great shock that As­ton Villa, New­cas­tle United and Nor­wich City, the three clubs rel­e­gated from the Premier League, as well as Mid­dles­brough, who have won pro­mo­tion to the top flight, have all been linked with moves for him. His ser­vices can be se­cured if a £12m clause in his con­tract is trig­gered.

The Glas­gow-born for­ward, though, has never con­tem­plated mak­ing him­self un­avail­able for se­lec­tion by his coun­try. “I un­der­stand, de­spite scor­ing goals, why I wasn’t in squads,” he said. “The man­ager has a few good strik­ers to pick from and most of the time he plays one up top. He maybe only takes three or four strik­ers away so some­one has to miss out. There are other guys who have missed out on this one.

“You just need to keep your head down and if the call comes then it’s great and if it doesn’t then you just keep go­ing. As soon as you spit the dummy and say you’ve re­tired then peo­ple in the game look at you in a dif­fer­ent light.

“That has never been my style. I’ve had some tough times and I’ve al­ways come through them. I was out the squad for 18 months to two years but I’ve come back in, man­aged to get a game and I’ve been called up again. I’m happy to keep work­ing away.

“It’s good to get away and hope­fully test my­self against some of the best play­ers in the world. The names just roll off your tongue. So, even if I’m not play­ing, it will be good to sit on the side and get a glimpse of these guys close up.”

BIG CHANCE: Ross McCor­mack, who has been in ex­cel­lent form for Ful­ham over the past two sea­sons (bot­tom right), is hop­ing to im­press the Scot­land

man­ager Gor­don Strachan and his as­sis­tant Mark McGhee (top right) af­ter forc­ing his way back into the fold this year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.