A NEWCOMER to the Scotland international squad setup has admitted he has never set foot in the country in his life.

Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie made the admission after being called up to the Scotland squad for their upcoming internationals against Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

But the 25-year-old has admitted: "I haven't actually been to Scotland," explaining that his father moved to Portsmouth from Edinburgh before he was born.

"I had a call a couple of weeks ago from the manager. He said he had been watching a lot of our games and liked what he had seen.

"He said he felt I would fit into the squad so, hopefully, I can impress and can fit in.

"It was an easy decision. To be involved with a country's international team is a great achievement and a dream come true."

Ritchie, who has played a key role in Bournemouth's push for a first-ever promotion from the English Championship to the Premier League, was called into the squad for the first time by coach Gordon Strachan this week for the friendly against Northern Ireland on March 25 and the Euro 2016 qualifier against Gibraltar four days later

Ritchie has scored nine times with Bournemouth, who are involved in the tight promotion race at the top of the Championship. They are third in the table, two points behind Watford and Middlesbrough with eight matches to play.

Ritchie, 25, was born in Portsmouth and previously played for Portsmouth, Swindon Town before being recruited by Bournemouth in 2013.

Strachan said of the inclusion: "The first thing you ask is: 'Are you Scottish?' It's that simple. Some people might have Scottish fathers but think of themselves as English.

"He feels Scottish, that's what he wants to be and he was so excited when he got the call. He was away to speak to his dad straight away.

"You ask if people want to be Scottish. There have been a couple who hummed and hawed and so, no.

"You need to have that feeling - as much as the paperwork. You have to feel you want to be Scottish.

"I've watched Matt for three or four months. Bournemouth are an excellent side, well coached, well drilled, fit."

"He has 11 goals this season so that is good going for someone out wide. His dad is Scottish. The lad was very excited and very happy indeed."

Ritchie said after receiving the call up:  "I had a call a couple of weeks ago from the manager.   It was a massive surprise and at first I thought it was a prank.  "I am delighted to be involved. It's a proud moment for me and my family. It would be a dream come true to pull on a Scotland shirt. 

"To be in and around the squad with the quality they have will be a great experience and a real stepping stone in my career.

"There is a lot of hard work to be done.  

"I am just excited to play with players of the calibre of Darren Fletcher, who had years at Manchester United. Training with these guys can only help me.  

"It is a great achievement and a dream come true as a young footballer.

"If I can play and make an impact it would be great. 

"I don't know what to expect but I will give my all. Hopefully, I can fit in the way the manager hopes. I know a few lads from playing against them."