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Seven years on, Burke is ready to prove his worth to Scotland

Chris Burke found he could only add a period of exile to his first two Scotland caps.

Chris Burke has impressed amid a struggling Birmingham team
Chris Burke has impressed amid a struggling Birmingham team

They were won in 2006, when the national team won the Kirin Cup in Japan, and the future must have seemed full of potential to a player who scored twice as a substitute on his international debut, then won a trophy in his second game.

Burke was 21 at the time, and trying to establish himself in the Rangers first team. He seemed a figure of promise, skilful and lively, but there were periods of fragility, too. He was never able to wholly rebuke the notion of him being frail after fainting on the pitch during a hot summer's day at Pittodrie. The winger was suffering from a virus at the time, but his career at Ibrox did not fully recover.

Spells at Cardiff City and now Birmingham City brought rejuvenation. At 29, there was excitement when he received notification of his return to the Scotland squad, but also a renewed sense of purpose. Burke is the only player called up by Gordon Strachan who did not feature during Craig Levein's tenure, so he is entitled to consider this an opportunity to re-establish himself as an international player.

"If I'm honest, my Rangers form didn't go the way I wanted it to," he said. "The [Scotland] manager picks players who are playing well and I wasn't. That's probably the reason why I didn't build on it. This season has been a bit up and down for me and the whole Birmingham team, so I was surprised and delighted. It doesn't normally happen that you wait seven years for a second call-up, but hopefully I can still adapt and offer something."

Burke is a more mature player now, and he impressed enough this season to have been one of the players widely expected to be sold by Birmingham during last month's transfer window to raise money to deal with the club's financial issues. That move didn't occur, but Burke can add to that sense of value against Estonia at Pittodrie tomorrow night. Seven years on, he is more accustomed to the demands that come with his status in the game.

"When you come through at Celtic or Rangers, you are in a goldfish bowl," he said. "Everybody puts a little bit of pressure on you and thinks you will be the next big thing. Sometimes it doesn't happen for you [and] you need to go somewhere else for your career to blossom."

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