‘It would trump everything’ - City midfielder relishing Scotland’s big night
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Kenny McLean is hoping to achieve a new career high tonight, as Scotland try to qualify for their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.
The midfielder has seen his Norwich City team-mate Grant Hanley pull out of the Scotland squad to protect a sore hamstring ahead of the European Championship qualification play-off final in Serbia.
“I have obviously had some big moments in my career up to now - playing for Scotland, winning the Championship with Norwich and playing in the Premier League - it would trump everything,” McLean said about potential qualification, who was six years old during World Cup 98.
“It is such a huge honour for anybody to represent their country and if we can do this, after Scotland has waited such a long time, I think for most of the boys in the squad it will be the same.
“Even if you look at Andy Robertson, who has won European cups (with Liverpool), I think it would even trump that for him. It is such a massive game and such a massive occasion, and one we are really looking forward to.”
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Serbia are 30th in the Fifa world rankings, 15 places higher than the Scots. Steve Clarke’s side travel to Belgrade (7.45pm kick-off) thanks to McLean scoring the decisive penalty in a shoot-out win over Israel in Glasgow in the semi-finals last month.
Since that success McLean has forced his way back into the team at Norwich, coming off the bench to score a deflected late equaliser at Brentford and coming in for the injured Lukas Rupp as he played all of Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Swansea, thanks to a late winner from Marco Stiepermann.
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The 28-year-old - who is hoping to win his 15th international cap tonight - is pleased to be playing his part in a seven-game unbeaten run but hopes City can stop relying on late goals, having scored in the 80th minute or later in seven of their 11 matches so far.
“To show the character we do is obviously a good thing and it feels good after games when you get the results,” McLean added, speaking to the Canaries’ OTBC match-day programme.
“However, we don’t want to find ourselves in that position too much because I think if you look across the season so far we have not been ahead in games too often. So we want to start controlling games from a bit earlier on.”