Gary Mackay-Steven says he always believed in his ability to feature for Scotland again.
The Aberdeen winger has been called up to the national squad by manager Alex McLeish for this month’s UEFA Nations League clashes with Albania and Israel.
Mackay-Steven’s impressive form for the Dons this season has been rewarded by Gothenburg Great McLeish.
The former Dundee United player had spent five years stuck on one Scots cap.
But due to injury withdrawals after the Nations League defeat by Israel on October 11, the 28-year-old was called into the Dark Blues squad for the Hampden friendly with Portugal three days later.
Against the European champions he made a positive impact, being introduced as a substitute and setting up Steven Naismith to score a consolation in stoppage time with a clever back-heel in the 3-1 loss.
That contribution and his club form at Pittodrie have seen Mackay-Steven chosen for Scotland’s next two matches.
The national side will take on Albania in Shkoder on November 17 and Israel at Hampden three days later.
The fixtures will decide Scotland’s Nations League fate as they look to win Group C1 and guarantee a play-off place in the bid to qualify for Euro 2020.
Mackay-Steven made his Scots bow in a 0-0 draw with the USA in November 2013 while at Dundee United.
A move to Celtic where he struggled for game time and with injury issues meant he was never in the reckoning for the national team.
But since moving to the Dons in the summer of last year, Mackay-Steven has been revitalised and is now back in the squad along with fellow Reds Scott McKenna, Graeme Shinnie and Mikey Devlin.
He says he always believed in his ability to get back to international level despite his time in the wilderness.
Mackay-Steven said: “It was never really in my thoughts, to be honest.
“I always believe in my ability and if I get a sustained run of games I feel more than capable of being at that level.
“It wasn’t a surprise to be involved the last time, it was a bonus.
“When you are playing at club level you just focus on week by week and then it was nice to be in the set-up again.
“I feel I am contributing to the team which I need to do and I feel in a good place.
“I go into every game with confidence and looking to score goals and create goals for the team.
“I feel I have been doing that – but I need to keep it going.
“Every player wants to play for their country and I’m no different so I want to play well and be involved.
“I’ve still got ambitions and the more experiences at that level the better. But ultimately that comes from doing the business with Aberdeen.”
Mackay-Steven was pleased to be involved for the Dark Blues against Portugal and hopes to build on that showing. He has been happy with his form for Aberdeen but insists there is still room for improvement.
He added: “It was a good feeling to be involved in that.
“That is what every player wants to do – play for their country.
“It was a great feeling again to pull on the jersey and hopefully if I keep up my form for Aberdeen there can be more of that to come.
“I feel I definitely am showing what I can do here.
“But I still feel there is more to come from me – I think every player feels that.
“There is always room for improvement and for me consistency is key and hopefully I can keep what I’ve been doing going.”
Mackay-Steven also believes Aberdeen provides a good platform to feature for Scotland.
In recent years Kenny McLean, Graeme Shinnie, Scott McKenna and Ryan Christie have all played for the national side on the back of strong displays for the Dons.
Mackay-Steven said: “We’ve had international players in the squad before.
“The coach of the national team is always watching what is happening and this is a big club too.
“And it’s been great to be up here and performing. Hopefully I can just keep doing well.”