Former Dundee United star Stuart Armstrong facing up to reality of life in English Premier League

Stuart Armstrong (right) with Callum Paterson during training.
Stuart Armstrong (right) with Callum Paterson during training.

Former Dundee United midfielder Stuart Armstrong is living the dream at Southampton while finding the reality frustrating.

The Scotland midfielder made a £7 million move from Celtic to St Mary’s in the summer on a four-year deal to fulfil a long-held ambition to ply his trade in the English Premier League.

However, he has only made three starts for Saints, the most recent in the 1-1 home draw against Watford at the weekend.

The 26-year-old admits he is still adapting to football down south.

Armstrong said: “I grew up watching a lot of Premier League games, going down with my dad and brother to watches these games and wanting to be a part of it and it was something I dreamed about as young player.

“That was my own interest and I’m very happy to be experiencing it right now

“It’s always hard when you’re not playing games, starting games especially, because nobody likes sitting on the bench and I’m not the most patient but I need to learn to adapt.

“I’m in a different league. I spent eight years in the Scottish League so changing leagues and environments was always going to be different and a change.

“So I’m being patient and waiting on my chance.

“It’s just different. Different types of games, different opposition from what I’m used to so these things always take a little bit of time.

“But I have enjoyed it, I have enjoyed the challenge which was one of the main reasons behind the move. When I do get time in the field I will try to make an impact.”

Armstrong is certainly not pining for Scotland’s Premiership.

However, he insists the move down south is not “a natural progression” but simply an individual choice.

“I wouldn’t say I miss Scottish football,” he said.

“I had my time here and I was very grateful for it. I have a lot of nice memories.

“That feeling of breaking through at Dundee United as a young player, that experience of first-team football was incredible and something that you dream about when you are younger.

“Playing regularly for them and that move to Celtic and playing for, in my view, the best team in Scotland, and to experience success there and to make history (winning the double-treble) was something I will never forget.

“But I wanted something new, a new challenge and if I hadn’t taken that opportunity I think I would have regretted it.

“So I wouldn’t say I miss Scottish football. I miss the boys and when I come back to the international team it’s great to see them.”

Armstrong is hoping to be in Alex McLeish’s line-up for the crucial Nations League game in Albania on Saturday night which comes before the visit of Israel on Tuesday.

Heading into the final two Group C1 fixtures, the Scots are three points behind Israel, who beat them 2-1 in their last outing, while above Albania on goal difference.

Armstrong is confident Scotland can emerge top and make the play-offs.

He said: “We certainly have the belief. The performance the last time out wasn’t great and everyone knows that so it is up to us to turn that round and put in a good performance on Saturday.”

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