Stephen O’Donnell may have broken into Scotland’s starting line-up but the Kilmarnock defender reckons he has still to prove he belongs there.
Following three friendly appearances, O’Donnell was a surprise inclusion for Alex McLeish’s first competitive match since returning as national team manager in Monday’s 2-0 victory over Albania.
O’Donnell was drafted in at right wing back to replace the injured Ryan Fraser, and excelled as the Scots got their UEFA Nations League campaign off to the perfect start.
Former Partick Thistle defender O’Donnell is refusing to take his place in the side for granted however, and he said: “I was told when I was younger 50 games for your club and you are a first team footballer, so maybe if I can get to ten caps then I definitely belong to be here.
“I just need to concentrate on Kilmarnock and hopefully get some good results, then we will see where that takes me for my country. Hopefully that takes care of itself.
“We are playing a five so a five at right wing back isn’t my natural position. Right of a four is where I play at club level. There are players Callum Paterson, James Forrest, Ryan Fraser, who can all operate on that right side.
“Are you telling me they are not good players, they can’t fill in Alan Hutton’s shoes? Of course they can. It is just maybe getting a settled team that is the difficult thing.
“You look at the left where you have Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, two outstanding young players, that is what maybe makes the right side thing difficult but whoever plays will me more than capable. If I get the nod again I will be sure to try to do my best.”
O’Donnell was one of just four players involved in the depleted squad that travelled on the summer tour of Mexico and Peru who was in from the start against Albania, and the 26-year-old feels he has reaped the rewards of committing to the South American trip.
He added: “If I hadn’t gone there wouldn’t be a chance I would be here now. I got called up at the last minute into that one and I was over the moon with it. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip as a whole.
“The results were disappointing but getting the experience and the chance to train with players of that standard for myself was great.
“This trip too, playing with players who are playing at the top, means there are difficult times in training.
“I have enjoyed it and I believe I have attributes that can be used at this level.”