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Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson targets World Cup qualification glory

Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson earned a first Scotland start against Austria in Vienna.
Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson earned a first Scotland start against Austria in Vienna.

Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson is dreaming of securing World Cup qualification glory with Scotland.

The 22-year-old admits games don’t come any bigger than the chance to qualify for the World Cup.

Ferguson has been named in national boss Steve Clarke’s squad for the World Cup play-off against Ukraine on Wednesday, June 1.

Should the Scots beat Ukraine they will face Wales in a play-off final in Cardiff on June 5 for a place at the World Cup in Qatar.

Scotland are aiming to qualify for a World Cup finals for the first time since 1998.

Capped three times, Ferguson wants to help write Scottish football history by being part of a squad that ends a 24 year World Cup qualification drought.

Austria’s Martin Hinteregger and Scotland’s Lewis Ferguson in action in the friendly in Vienna.

He said: “This is the chance to get to the World Cup.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than that.

“Hopefully we can win the play-offs.

“There are loads of big games coming up and I want to be part of them.

“I’ve had a wee taste of it over the past year and want more.”

Grant Hanley, Ryan Jack and Lewis Ferguson during the national anthems during an International Friendly between Austria and Scotland at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.

Target to get into the play-off squad

Ferguson finished the campaign as Aberdeen’s highest scorer on 16 goals.

He earned a debut Scotland cap on September 1 last year when coming off the bench in a 2-0 World Cup qualifier loss to Denmark.

Clarke has named an extended squad of 28 as the Scots could face a possible five fixtures next month.

Following the World Cup play-offs the Scots have three UEFA Nations League matches.

They face an away trip to Republic of Ireland in between home and away games against Armenia.

Ferguson said: “Pushing to try to get into the squad has been my aim since the last Scotland camp.

“Whether I play in those games or not it’s still an experience I can learn from.

“I’m still learning and trying to get as much games as possible.

“I’m trying to better myself and be the best version of myself.”

Scotland’s Lewis Ferguson in action against Austria in Vienna.

Two wins from the World Cup finals

Scotland were initially scheduled to play Ukraine in the World Cup semi-final on March 24.

That match was postponed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Scotland instead played a fundraising friendly on that date with Poland.

Ferguson was an unused substitute for the 1-1 draw with Poland at Hampden.

Five days later he earned his first Scotland start in another friendly.

The Aberdeen midfielder started in a 2-2 draw with Austria in Vienna on March 29.

Scotland’s Lewis Ferguson in action in the 2-2 draw with Austria.

He produced a strong performance before being replaced by Chelsea’s Billy Glmour (on loan at Norwich) in the 77th minute.

Scotland were 2-0 up with 15 minutes remaining only to concede two late goals.

However the draw extended the Scots’ unbeaten run to eight games.

Pride at first start for Scotland

Ferguson insists the honour of starting for his country was a ‘proud moment’ for both himself and his family.

He became the third member of his family to start for Scotland.

Father Derek, who played for Rangers, Hearts and Sunderland,  earned two caps.

Derek started against Malta (1-1, March 22, 1998) and  Columbia (o-0, May 17, 1998).

Uncle Barry, who played for Rangers and Blackburn Rovers, earned 45 caps.

Dons star Ferguson hopes his start against Austria in March is the first of many.

Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson celebrates scoring the winner against Dundee.

Ferguson said: “To start for your country is one of the best feelings in the world.

“There’s not a lot of guys that can say that.

“To represent my country at the top level was a really proud moment for me and my family.”

‘A learning curve as I’m still young’

Scotland’s final fixture of a congested summer is away to Armenia on June 14,

Aberdeen are set to return for pre-season training in mid June.

The Dons are braced for bids for Ferguson during the summer transfer window.

Italians Cagliari were lining up a £3.5m summer move for the midfielder.

However Cagliari were relegated to Serie B at the weekend.

Regardless of what the summer holds at club level, Ferguson is relishing the opportunity to work with the Scotland squad as his development continues apace.

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin and scorer Lewis Ferguson shake hands after the defeat of Dundee.

He said: “Scotland is a learning curve for me as I’m still young.

“Playing games, working hard and being involved in these squads – it is all a learning process.”

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Zander Clark (St Johnstone), Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian), Liam Kelly (Motherwell), David Marshall (Hibernian)

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Jack Hendry (Brugge), Aaron Hickey (Bologna), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Nathan Patterson (Everton), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Rangers), Greg Taylor (Celtic)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen), Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), Ryan Jack (Rangers), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Callum McGregor (Celtic), Scott McTominay (Manchester United), David Turnbull (Celtic)

Forwards: Che Adams (Southampton), Jacob Brown (Stoke City), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Lyndon Dykes (Queens Park Rangers), Ross Stewart (Sunderland)

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