DECLAN Gallagher, the Motherwell centre half, believes he is better placed to stake a claim for a place in the Scotland team in their Euro 2020 double header against Cyprus and Kazakhstan than when he was first called into the national set-up last month.

Gallagher, who has been in inspired form for the Fir Park club, got drafted into Steve Clarke’s squad for the Group I matches with Russia and San Marino after Norwich City defender Grant Hanley pulled out injured.

The 28-year-old didn’t feature in either of those matches and he has admitted that he found the speed of the training sessions difficult to adapt to.


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But he is confident he will fare better in the coming days and is hopeful, with David Bates, Stuart Findlay, Hanley and Charlie Mulgrew all absent, of forcing his way into the starting line-up ahead of the play-offs next year.

“The first time I joined up, at the last call up, I was caught off guard with the pace of it a little bit,” said Gallagher. “But I’m now going in fully expecting to be right at it from the start.

“I feel in a better place to deal with that now. I’ve got a wee feel for it. I won’t have the first time nerves this time – not knowing what’s going to happen, what you have to do and what the routine is.

“Now I’ve seen and done that it’s time to go in there and impress that little bit more.”

Gallagher added: “I was a little disappointed not to get any game time last time. Every footballer wants to play but at the end of the day the manager makes these decisions and I was just happy to be involved in the squad.

“It’s obviously disappointing not to play, but it’s about the team. If the manager feels the team he’s picked can win then so be it. I just have to work harder to try and get into it.

“It’s exciting to be part of this group. You can see there’s been a few injuries – that’s why I got my first call up.

“Now I’ve got a second chance which is good. I’m hopeful of pushing my way in with the play-off games coming up in March. I just need to try and impress in these next two games to hopefully be apart of that.

“It’s definitely an exciting time for me. It’s given me the opportunity to show my talents so hopefully I can take that.”

Gallagher gifted Odsonne Edouard the opening goal in Motherwell’s 2-0 defeat to Celtic on Sunday and admitted it will take him time to get over the disappointment of the result.


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However, the former Dundee and Livingston defender stressed he still has belief in his own ability and feels he is good enough to cope with the demands of international football.

“I’ll still be hurting on international duty as club football is what you come back to,” he said. “I’ll just need to get it out of my head and concentrate on the international football.

“I still feel full of confidence. A lot of good things are happening for me at the moment. When you get called up, you get a boost from that. I’m definitely playing with a bit of confidence.

“There is definitely more to come from me. You can always become a better player. The manager is pushing me every day in training to try and develop me. I’m always in the gym – trying to improve on my speed and my own game. There’s always more you can improve on.

“The challenges of international football are huge. It’s another step up but one I’m looking forward to.”