Aberdeen defender Andy Considine is determined to retain his Scotland spot for the World Cup qualifiers to realise his Euro 2020 finals dream.
Steve Clarke’s Scots are in Group F along with Denmark, Austria, Israel, Faroe Islands and Moldova in the race to qualify for Qatar 2022.
Just three months after the opening round of World Cup qualifiers, Scotland will kick off in Euro 2020.
It is unlikely any player not in the March qualifiers will be named in Clarke’s 23-man squad for the nation’s first major tournament finals in more than two decades.
Capped three times, Considine insists representing his country has given him added “fire and drive” – not that he needed any more incentive to star for the Dons.
He aims to continue to impress at club level to remain high in Clarke’s thoughts.
The 33-year-old said: “Hopefully when March comes round and then in the summer I am in the Scotland manager’s thoughts.
“The Euros is a huge motivation.
“Being in the Scotland squad was a fantastic experience.
“It gave me the fire and drive – not that I didn’t have that anyway – to become better and keep playing well and consistently.”
Considine was initially a late call up to Clarke’s squad in response to a defensive injury crisis in October ahead of the Nations League games against Slovakia and the Czech Republic at Hampden.
Not only did Considine secure a much deserved debut cap, he started the 1-0 Nations League defeat of Slovakia.
His performance was so strong he retained a starting slot for the 1-0 win against the Czech Republic.
Considine said: “When I got the call up I just wanted to do as well as possible in training and in the games.
“I didn’t expect to get my first cap when I was called up, I thought I’d be more of a back up.
“But to play both games, win both games and keep clean sheets was tremendous.
“Then to get called up again in November and be part of the play-off final for the Euros was incredible.”
Considine was named in Clarke’s 27 man squad for the triple away header against Serbia, Slovakia and Israel last month.
Manager Clarke insisted selecting the Dons defender was an “easy” decision after impressing so much during the previous fixtures.
Considine was an unused substitute in the historic penalty shoot-out defeat of Serbia in Belgrade to secure qualification to the Euro 2020 finals.
He then started in the 1-0 Nations League loss in Slovakia to earn a third cap.
Considine said “The second call-up was probably more satisfying than the first one.
“Obviously getting called up any time is brilliant, but to get a call-up to the original squad was great.
“It’s just a shame there were no fans there when we qualified because you could feel what it meant to everyone.
“It has been tough at times, but they have come a long, long way.”
‘Football is nothing without fans’
The Scottish government rejected a request by Aberdeen to allow supporters inside Pittodrie this month.
The club proposed a plan that would have permitted 1,000 fans to attend the match with Ross County on Saturday.
Aberdeen had also applied to have 2,000 fans inside Pittodrie for the December 26 clash with St Johnstone.
The prospect of supporters returning to stadiums next year took a massive leap forward with the roll out of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine this week.
Aberdeen stalwart and Scotland international Considine said: “Getting the vaccine is absolutely brilliant for everyone.
“Football is nothing without the fans and as soon as we get them back it will help every single club financially.
“It will also help the players.
“Football brings a big smile to a lot of people and it is what many look forward to week in week out.
“It is a huge part of their lives and we are all missing it very much.
“We have a fantastic support.”
It has been a memorable two months for Considine.
As well as making a breakthrough at international level, the defender also entered Aberdeen’s top five all-time list for club appearances.
The 1-1 draw with St Mirren was Considine’s 536th appearance, moving him clear in fifth spot ahead of Gothenburg Great Jim Leighton.
Only Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Bobby Clark and Stewart McKimmie have played more times for Aberdeen.
However, there is a frustration that reaching that land-mark has coincided with a drop in form as the Dons are now four games without victory.
Considine is confident Aberdeen, knocked off third spot by Hibs, will rediscover that winning touch over a pivotal period of the Premiership campaign
He said: “We have been a pretty consistent team this season and have been over the years.
“If we can get back to that consistency and performing well then we will get the results we need.
“If you can churn out the results in December, January and February, then – when it comes to the business end of the season – you can look back and see how important results then were.
“It is an important time of the season.”