There is no sense of him glorying in his return to the Scotland squad. An attitude of remorse continues to be the overwhelming reaction to his arrest following a drink-driving incident last year for which he was suspended by Aston Villa, dropped by the national team and eventually punished in court. "It was stupid," he says quietly. "I regret it unbelievably."
A night out last October ended with Bannan ditching his high-performance car after crashing on the motorway. He fled the scene, but was later arrested and charged with drink-driving, failing to stop after a road accident, driving without due care and attention and driving on a provisional licence. The following month he was fined £4500 and banned for 18 months.
Aston Villa punished the player, and Craig Levein effectively did the same by omitting him from his squad for the friendly against Cyprus last November. The midfielder had established himself as a regular at both club and international level, despite being only 21 at the time, and both of his managers felt a moral obligation to reprimand the player.
They did not ostracise him, though, and Alex McLeish restored him to the first-team squad the month after Bannan's indiscretion. His talent was recognised, but there was a desire to make sure the midfielder understood that lifestyle choices were critical to his career and his personal life. The fear was that a promising talent would be undermined by a reckless nature. Levein responded in the same way, and took care to phone Bannan to tell him he was dropped before the Scotland squad was announced for the Cyprus game. He also combined rebuking the player with the reassurance he was not being abandoned.
"He was making sure I knew I'd done something wrong, but also trying to help me by saying everybody makes mistakes and it's up to you to react to it in the right way and make sure it never happens again," Bannan says of the call from Levein. "He told me as soon as the situation had gone, if I was still doing well he'd be picking me. That helped me. It was the right decision. I had great respect for the gaffer even before this happened, but that got much better when he spoke to me about why I wasn't going to be involved. The gaffer has shown great faith in me."
Both McLeish and Levein would have calculated that Bannan's ability was worth trying to save, but also that as an individual he would respond to their intervention. He still appears shaken by the experience, and during the trial his lawyer stressed the player's regret. A counsellor visits Villa's Bodymoor Heath training ground every Friday, and Bannan speaks to him regularly.
He might not consider his rehabilitation complete, but Bannan has returned to prominence. He was used as a substitute for many of Villa's games around the turn of the year, but played the full 90 minutes of last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic. The Midlands side are 15th in the Barclay's Premier League, but McLeish was prepared to trust in Bannan and his fellow academy graduates, Gary Gardner and Marc Albrighton, in a youthful midfield.
Levein, too, values Bannan's contributions. Although he is small and slight, the midfielder is technically accomplished and seeks to impose himself on games. Tomorrow's friendly against Slovenia was an opportunity to recall Bannan to the international set-up, but Levein will also be impressed by the player's attitude.
Bannan feels that there is a debt to be paid, to the manager but also to his team-mates. "The gaffer's shown great faith in me," he says. "If I get on the pitch on Wednesday, I've got to repay that. When I was missing from the Cyprus game, most of the guys texted me – Darren Fletcher, Charlie Adam, most of the squad. It just shows how strong the team spirit is here, that helped me through it. It was a hard time, I still think about it now. It's probably made me a bit stronger, character-wise. I wouldn't say it's affected my football, but sometimes I'll be sitting in the house and I'll think what I could've done and what I should've done. I just have to make sure that it never happens again."
The impression is of a player seeking redemption. Bannan was forced to confront a personal crisis just at the moment when his career was taking shape. Footballers are susceptible to high-profile setbacks, but in his quiet, firm tone, Bannan appears changed by his experience. He can still be a notable player, but there is an understanding that he momentarily placed that in jeopardy.
"I spoke to [McLeish] a couple of weeks ago and he reassured me that I was a big part of his plans and my time would come," Bannan says. "I'd played the previous nine [Scotland] games, I was on a good run of form for club and country, but things change," he says. "It's up to me to try and play the next nine games."