Kai Fotheringham is determined to draw inspiration from prodigious winger Ben Doak after sharing a pitch – and a room – with the Liverpool wonderkid.
The Dundee United wide-man made his Scotland U21 debut during last week’s outstanding 2-0 win against their Belgian counterparts in Roeselare, during which Doak notched an assist with a typically dazzling dribble and incisive pass.
Fotheringham, 20, was also due to get on the pitch in the subsequent 0-0 stalemate with Hungary, only for the drama of Doak’s late missed penalty to result in a rethink from boss Scot Gemmill.
While Doak is the darling of Gemmill’s squad – and potentially well-placed to make a late run for the Euro 2024 senior squad – Fotheringham insists he was just another one of the boys after being paired together on their travels.
🎥🏴 Brilliant work from #LFC’s Ben Doak (18) to assist the second in Scotland U21s’ 2-0 win vs. Belgium on Friday.
His pressing from centre-forward forces the mistake – and also won the corner for Scotland’s first goal. pic.twitter.com/ZLfZIJXA7H
— Jack Lusby (@LusbyJack) November 18, 2023
“You just see how sharp Ben is during training and in the games,” lauded Fotheringham. “He is training with top, top players every day so he will be taking a lot from what they do.
“I was actually sharing a room with Ben, which was good. We just spoke about our lives and played a bit of Playstation. He is really down to earth.
“Training with top players and having that experience of international football was something I had been looking to achieve. Ben really impressed me, and then boys like Alex Lowry, Leon King and Connor Barron, who was very good.
“He (Barron) stood out and conducted himself really well being the captain. I took a lot from him and obviously the wide players in the squad. But there were so many good players, it is hard to name them all!”
Striving for place in March
He added: “The first couple of days I was just getting myself comfortable within the training. After that, I felt I did well.
“I was about to come on in the second game as well, until we won the penalty, so I was a wee bit unlucky with that.
“The next camp is in March and hopefully I’ll be involved with that. I need to keep striving to do well and push for that.”
Time was running out
Fotheringham confessed to a sense of rising “panic” as he stood on the touchline in Belgium, desperate to win his maiden U21 cap. As the clock ticked down, deep into injury time, he feared his opportunity may fade.
However, he entered the fray for the dying embers, replacing Kieron Bowie.
Congratulations, Kai! 👏 pic.twitter.com/PYHtqalgJx
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) November 18, 2023
“I didn’t expect to get on at all,” he acknowledged. “I just thought I would go out there and enjoy the experience of mixing with so many good players.
“So, to come on and make my debut was a proud moment for me and my family.
“They put up the board and I think it was four minutes of added time. As I was standing on the touchline, I remember asking the lino how long there was to go, and he said “two minutes” – I was just really hoping the ball went out of play!
“I was definitely panicking a wee bit.”
Can United prove they are Premiership quality with Scottish Cup run?
With four months until the next Scotland U21 gathering, Fotheringham’s focus will immediately return to United duty and continuing the form that has seen him notch seven goals and six assists this season.
After touching down on home soil on Wednesday afternoon, he immediately comes into contention for this afternoon’s Scottish Cup showdown against Queen of the South.
Fotheringham added: “I need to get my head down, do what I have been doing for United and keep scoring goals and assisting.
“I want to be playing first-team football here and I will be back to that on Saturday.
“The players we have here are Premiership players, so we should be striving to show that in the Scottish Cup; to push on and go as far as we can get in this competition.”