Canada are closing in on a World Cup dream and Ross County midfielder Harry Paton is desperate to be part of it.
The Canadian national team are aiming to reach next year’s finals in Qatar, which would be just their second appearance at a World Cup.
Their only previous qualification came in Mexico in 1986, when they exited at the group stage without scoring a goal.
A 4-1 victory over Panama in midweek has put Canada in a strong position to advance from the eight-team CONCACAF qualifying section, with John Herdman’s side occupying third place behind Mexico and United States.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) October 14, 2021
The top three teams will qualify automatically, with the fourth-placed side going into an inter-confederation play-off.
Midfielder Paton earned his first national team call-up for the Gold Cup in the summer, but has since dropped out of the squad.
The 23-year-old is eager to play his way back into contention in what could be a milestone 12 months for his country.
He said: “For me personally, my biggest goal is looking at getting back in that Canada team.
“That’s along with performing well here, and getting my stats up with goals and assists, as well as performing well on a personal level and helping the team out.
“The next break is in November, and I want to be on the sheet getting called up for that.
“They have got a very strong team. They have had some very strong results in the last few games against Mexico, Jamaica and Panama.
“They are looking at securing their qualification for the World Cup in the next couple of games.”
Lack of action did not hinder Paton’s Gold Cup experience
Despite being called up to the squad, a Covid issue prevented Paton from making his national team debut during the summer tournament.
Paton retains fond memories of the experience, despite the lack of game time.
He added: “It was the proudest moment of my life, being called up for something like that.
“Things just happened. I got the illness and got Covid, but I didn’t let that affect me.
“I did my quarantine and got back to training, and just did my best.
“I was unlucky not to make my full debut. I was only available for the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. It was a bit tricky, the coach wasn’t going to throw me straight into the most pressurised game.
“I trained really well, and hopefully I showed them what I could do.
“It was a good experience and I’m happy I ended up going.
“I’m still in the picture with the wider squad. I’ve just got to keep going and force my way into the final selection.”
Paton’s focus remains on club matters in the meantime, with the Staggies facing St Mirren at Victoria Park this afternoon.
The former Hearts and Fulham youngster is eager to help Malky Mackay’s side record their first Premiership triumph of the season at the ninth attempt, adding: “I’m feeling good about it and really looking forward to the game.
“We’ve been playing some nice football recently and it would just be really nice to play at home, play the same football we’ve been playing and get a win.
“I think the manager sums it up well when he speaks about our season so far.
“I completely agree that we’ve been really unlucky. We’ve been playing some good football, but we’ve been building and improving a lot over the season so far.
“The first six matches were five of the top six teams from last year, plus Hearts.
“We want to be competing with these teams and I think we did. We were unlucky.
“In the next couple of games, we need to prove we can beat teams in and around us in the league, play good football, score goals – and win.”