JAMES McFadden wants to play his way back into the Scotland squad in time for the next World Cup qualifier in only 28 days' time.
McFadden has not played for his country since being substituted against Liechtenstein in September 2010, which was also the month in which he last played a full 90 minutes of club football. But the 29-year-old is determined that his international career will not end on 48 caps and he intends to play his way to the forefront of Scotland manager Gordon Strachan's thoughts before the squad is named to face Wales on March 22, and Serbia four days later.
McFadden has returned to Motherwell for the rest of the season but there will be only five league games – against Ross County, Celtic, Hearts, Aberdeen and Hibernian – before Scotland play. However, the forward, who played the final 18 minutes as a substitute against Dundee United in midweek, was adamant that it can be done.
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"I don't know if the double-header will be too soon but if I get a run of games for Motherwell then it is up to the manager. If I'm doing well then it wouldn't be too soon in my mind. The manager might feel differently. If he [Strachan] feels he needs me, then I feel I can still add to the Scotland team. If he picks me, then I'd be absolutely delighted. I feel like I have unfinished business with Scotland."
Former Scotland manager Craig Levein called him lazy after that Liechtenstein game – concluding he had not done enough tracking back – and injuries meant the Tartan Army favourite has not been seen in the colours again. "I can't end my Scotland career on that note. I am only 29 so if I can get back playing games I feel as though I can still add to the party for Scotland. Reaching 50 caps would mean everything to me. When I was a young boy one cap would have been enough. But I am two caps off 50. Once you play a few games it is a big aim. People have talked about me coming in to Motherwell and maybe upsetting people and having to put people out of the team or under pressure. The last Scotland squad had a lot of good players and ones who came in and played well, so it's kind of the same situation."
Only Kenny Miller has scored more goals than McFadden among current Scotland forwards, and among his 15 are iconic winners against the Netherlands in the Euro 2004 play-off first leg and against France in Paris in a Euro 2008 qualifier.