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Midfield options keep Cowie guessing

NEXT month will be the second anniversary of Don Cowie becoming a Scotland player; two years of keeping a toehold among a group of midfielders Craig Levein has described as the country's best of the past 20 years.

The Cardiff City man is modest, grounded and grateful, but he offers more than that. As a grafter who can play across the middle he is a low key and unheralded, but useful, figure to have in any squad. When Scott Brown succumbed to an early injury against Denmark last month, Cowie was the man Levein called for. The 28-year-old delivered a typically industrious 70-minute shift and pocketed his fourth cap.

Cowie doesn’t have the cachet of playing for Manchester United, Liverpool, Celtic or Rangers. He isn’t as celebrated as Darren Fletcher, Charlie Adam, Scott Brown or Steven Naismith. And he is perfectly comfortable admitting it. “I look around at the Scotland midfielders and know how hard it is to get recognition.

“It makes things tougher for me. I was happy with being a part of the Denmark game, but you know people like Darren are coming back and you think ‘maybe I might not be involved in the squad next time’. To be involved in it, knowing people like Darren are back, means I can take a lot of belief. If you look at the squad, the manager has a lot of options. I’m aware of that, but it’s up to me to do well in training to be part of it on Saturday.”

Because of the after-effects of a virus, Fletcher hasn’t played for Scotland since November last year, missing the last five matches. He hasn’t played a competitive game for Manchester United this season, and hasn’t managed five over the whole of the last six months. According to Cowie, it doesn’t show.

“We had our first session and he was right back involved like he was as normal. It gives you a great boost seeing a player of that ability back involved. Up until the virus, he was one of the midfielders in the Premiership last season, if not the best. To have that at your disposal for the national team is a great thing. He is a great player to have.

“You just look across and you see what Charlie has done of late, playing with a club like Liverpool. To have Charlie and someone like Darren back in the squad is great for us. We have got James Morrison as well, who is doing extremely well in the Premiership. The manager has got a lot of options. To be part of those options is a great feeling.”

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