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