Hamburg defender David Bates revealed a phone call from Scotland boss Steve Clarke helped him through his rehabilitation from an ankle injury.
The 22-year-old suffered an ankle ligament injury in a Bundesliga 2 clash against Paderborn in May that ruled him out for two months.
His summer was plunged into further misery on the final day of the season as Hamburg failed to earn promotion back to the top flight.
Six-time German title winners and European Cup winners in 1983, Hamburg were relegated for the first time in the club’s history the previous season.
Failure to bounce back up had major ramifications. The budget for the new campaign was slashed, along with the management team.
Having been a first-team regular last season, Bates was put out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.
National boss Clarke helped him negotiate that tough time.
Now Bates is ready to help his gaffer by answering a late call-up due to a defensive crisis for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia and Belgium at Hampden.
Bates said: “I was disappointed with the injury and knew I’d miss the Scotland summer camp.
“Being the gaffer’s first camp and first games, it was disappointing, but he called me and said that I shouldn’t be too down. It was good to get that call because when you get an injury your head can be a bit all over the place.
“To get a call like that settles you and makes you want to work hard to get back into the team.
“I didn’t know he was going to phone me so it was a good phone call to get. It shows the type of character he is. It was good for me. It’s a good example of man management.
“For him to phone me and say, that settled me in my head and made me work harder to get fit.”
Former Rangers defender Bates received his call-up to the squad on Sunday along with fellow centre-back Mikey Devlin of Aberdeen. Their selection was in reaction to injury withdrawals of Norwich’s Grant Hanley and Bates’ Wednesday team-mate Liam Palmer.
Bates said: “In a way, I thought I probably wouldn’t get in the squad, as I hadn’t played much after being out injured and then moving to Sheffield Wednesday.
“But he phoned me on Saturday night. To get that opportunity to represent your country is great.”
Now back in the squad, Bates accepts it will be difficult to get game time in the two qualifiers to add to his four caps.
He said: “‘Liam Cooper is in the squad with Charlie Mulgrew and Mikey Devlin. There are a few boys injured, but there are top quality centre-halves here as well.
“It’s a tough ask getting into the team, although it should be when you come away with your country.”
Bates joined Wednesday on a season-long loan for regular game time to ensure he remained firmly within Clarke’s Scotland plans.
He said: “I am young and I also had Scotland in the back of my mind, as I want to be in the squad.
“I had to make a decision for my own career. I got injured in the second last game of last season. I was out during the break and off-season so it wasn’t good timing.
“A new manager and sporting director came in during that period. It happens in football.
“They brought in new players and they were very open with me.
“I was disappointed to be told my game time might be limited, but it was due to circumstances that were out of my hands.
“I was out for eight weeks and missed a lot of the pre-season games the gaffer was using to look at players.
“He was honest with me and I have no issues with him at all. I see it from his perspective, too.”