Oliver Burke says being left out of the last Scotland squad means he wants to prove himself in this Euro 2020 qualifying double header.
The Dark Blues meet Russia in Moscow tomorrow before San Marino visit Hampden on Sunday.
Scotland’s hopes of reaching next year’s European Championships through Group I look dead in the water.
Steve Clarke’s team are nine points behind tomorrow’s opponents, who are second in the section, with just four games left.
As well as trying to salvage something from this qualifying group with two victories this week, Alaves forward Burke has a personal point to prove.
The former Nottingham Forest and Red Bull Leipzig man scored his first international goal as a sub against Cyprus in June, in Clarke’s first game as Scots boss.
The 22-year-old started the other June qualifier against Belgium (3-0 loss).
But Burke was left out of Clarke’s squad for last month’s double header with Russia and Belgium after a lack of game time with West Brom.
At the end of August he switched to La Liga side Alaves on loan and has played four games in the last month to get back in the Scotland reckoning.
He said: “That was the main reason why I wasn’t in the last squad. I hadn’t been playing football.
“I totally respect that and understand that. A player who isn’t playing football isn’t ready for the international team.
“Now I am very happy to be playing, and happy to be back in the set-up.
“I would say it hurt, because I had scored in the Cyprus game and I felt it was really going well in the international set-up.
“But these things happen, other players were playing and they deserved to be in over you, because they were playing more minutes.
“It wasn’t something that massively hurt but it made me think ‘right, I need to play football now, because I need to be able to help the team now’.
“Every game you want to go in and give everything you have got, prove a point and make sure you are in his thoughts for the next camp. If you aren’t playing, it is difficult.”
Despite most accepting that Scotland’s best chance of reaching the Euros is through the UEFA Nations League play-offs in March, Burke is not subscribing to that theory just yet and is instead focusing on trying to upset Russia.
The man who spent the second half of last season on loan at Celtic added: “These games are so important. Obviously, it has been difficult so far, and we have a lot to produce.
“We just have to go into these games and I think we have to win. Everybody knows that.
“We know the pressures, we just have to go out there and prove everyone wrong and do everything we can to win the games.
“We have to stay positive. Obviously every game is really important, but we have to believe in ourselves, believe we can win a game, or else we are not going to win the game.
“We have to go out there, train hard, and build a chemistry between us to go into these games with confidence.”
Burke’s season-long loan to Alaves raised some eyebrows, but he’s keen to make the most of it.
He said: “It doesn’t really phase me moving to another country – because I’ve already done it it’s a lot easier.
“I want to enjoy it because you only live one life so why not live it to the extreme and do everything you can?
“The main focus was to go there and get game time. That has happened and everything is going well, which is good.
“I’ve been playing on the wing and once I swapped into the striker position and then maybe once I swapped out to the left side.
“I’ve been going between the right wing and the left wing and I’m really enjoying that because it was my position growing up and it’s perfect for me.
“I’m happy to play anywhere as long as I’m getting game time. It’s not something I can dwell on.
“I just enjoying being up at the top end of the pitch. But if I was to say I had a favourable position I would say on the wing.”