Ikechi Anya came off the bench to help Scotland to a vital point against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday, but refused to criticise manager Gordon Strachan for leaving him out.
The Watford player has been a revelation for the national team since winning his first cap against Belgium in September 2013.
But the 27-year-old was a surprise omission from Saturday’s side to face Ireland in the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier at the Aviva Stadium.
It did not take long for Anya to make his mark after replacing Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie at half time. The midfielder had been on the pitch for little more than a minute when he picked out Shaun Maloney on the edge of the area and his curling effort found the bottom corner with the help of a deflection off Ireland defender John O’Shea.
The goal cancelled out Jon Walters’ first-half opener with the 1-1 draw meaning Scotland remain in third position in group D with a two-point advantage on Martin O’Neill’s men.
Anya was pleased to play a part in what may be a significant point on Scotland’s journey to the Euro 2016 finals.
He said: “We have such a talented squad and you can see that on the training ground.
“The manager said when the squad was announced that he has 15 or 16 players who think they should be playing. It wasn’t an easy decision for him.
“But like any player who doesn’t start, I tried to make an impact when I come on and luckily I did that.
“I don’t think the manager needs to justify any of his decisions. What he says goes. He announced the team and I just got on with it.
“I tried to prove him a bit wrong – with all due respect. Luckily, I managed to help the team, which is the main thing.
“The manager felt we were lacking a bit of pace so he threw me on and asked me to do what I do. I managed to have a role in the goal and I felt I did all right overall.
“I just try my best whenever I get on the pitch. If we could have got the three points that would have been better, but we are happy with the point and we’ll go into the Georgia game full of confidence.”
Anya believes Scotland can still finish in one of the leading two automatic qualification spots, currently occupied by Poland and Germany.
He added: “I think we are more than capable of going to Georgia in our next match and getting three points.
“We wanted to get the win here but Ireland made it hard for us. We’ll try to get the win against Georgia.
“It was important not to lose here to keep ourselves in a good position and the point could be massive for us in terms of qualification.
“Automatic qualification is still the goal. We still have Poland and Germany to play. Those will be the harder games but at Hampden Park we can beat any team.”