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Playing beyond doubt . . .

TRANSFER deadline day can often come across as a light comedy combined with a dose of farce.

Graham Dorrans' goal against Manchester City was spectacular. Picture: Getty
Graham Dorrans' goal against Manchester City was spectacular. Picture: Getty

Pity those poor Sky Sports reporters told to stand for hour upon hour, often in the pouring rain, repeatedly telling news-hungry viewers that "talks continue behind closed doors" while an increasingly boisterous gaggle of reprobates gather behind their shoulders, making daft faces for the camera.

Add in Jim White's near-permanent state of frenzied excitement in the studio and it is hard to take too much of it seriously at all.

From a player's point of view, however, these can be career-defining days. Clubs, who have had all summer or all of January to make rational moves to increase or streamline their squads, find themselves rushing into signing or selling a player almost on a whim as the minutes tick down to the window closing for another few months. And so a career gently meandering along in one direction can suddenly take a change of course.

That was almost the case earlier this year for Graham Dorrans. Frozen out by former head coach Steve Clarke, the midfielder had not played a first-team match for West Bromwich Albion for four months by the time the January transfer window came around. He had been with the West Midlands club for the best part of six years after moving from Livingston but felt that the time had come for a change. Not playing had caused him to start doubting his abilities, questioning his suitability for Premier League football. The moment had come, he felt, for a fresh challenge.

"I spoke to a few clubs on the last day of the window," he said. "I was in the club at the training ground, speaking to the manager and chief executive, but they didn't let me go in the end. I was wanting to go because I wanted to play. I hadn't played for seven months and anyone will tell you that plays football you need to play.

"It was definitely hard to handle. I was nowhere near it for so long and you question yourself if you're good enough to play at that level. I always knew in myself but there comes a time in any job if you're not playing and performing you start to wonder whether it's right to be at that job."

Clarke's departure and the appointment of Pepe Mel as his successor sparked an upturn in Dorrans' fortunes. Illness prevented him from returning immediately to the side but since mid-March he has been a regular, the highlight of his recent outings a spectacular goal against Manchester City.

West Brom have the option to extend Dorrans' contract by an additional year in the summer and Mel has urged them to do so. Dorrans would also be open to having dialogue about a possible new deal.

"I'll speak to the club over the next couple of weeks," he added. "Everyone wants to be playing, it doesn't matter what level you're at it's just about playing football. The past six or seven months before I got back in the team were probably the most difficult that I've had to deal with in my career so far. Getting back in the team got my confidence back up and I proved to myself I can play at that level. So it's been good."

Dorrans' return to a diet of regular football is good news for Scotland, too. The 26-year-old has not featured for the national team since appearing as a substitute in the 2-0 victory over Croatia in October, Gordon Strachan affording Dorrans the courtesy of explaining why he was not being selected.

"I spoke to the manager and I understood his reason as I wasn't playing at club level, so it was difficult for him to pick me," added Dorrans, who has 10 Scotland caps to his name. "The squad they've got is full of fantastic players. I spoke to him and everything was fine, I understood and had no qualms about that. But I've now got myself back in the team and hopefully I can push myself back into the Scotland fold. There are good players but if I'm playing every week in the Premier League then I don't see why I can't push to get in the squad and we'll see what happens."

Dorrans will be joining a group brimming with confidence on the back of a five-match unbeaten run and up to 22nd place in the FIFA world rankings. "There is optimism and I want to be part of it," he said. "They have picked up some great results. Since the new manager has come in they've done really well and when I've been in the squad I've really enjoyed it."

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