Ryan Gauld says he is “still hopeful” he can earn a dream Scotland call-up and force his way into Steve Clarke’s Euro 2020 plans.
The former Dundee United midfielder, currently starring for Farense in Portugal’s top flight, has yet to pick up a cap for his country.
The 24-year-old has not been considered for the national team since making his big move to Sporting Lisbon from Tannadice in 2014 when he was called up by Gordon Strachan.
Dubbed ‘Mini Messi’ when he initially broke into the Tangerines’ first team as a 16-year-old in 2012, creative spark Gauld struggled to make his mark in Sporting’s top team and hasn’t been on Scotland’s radar since.
Instead, he had to make do with loan spells in Portugal, and at Hibs, before finally finding his feet at Farense last season where he has become a star turn.
Speaking on the Dode Fox Podcast, Gauld said it would be a dream to, finally, pull on the dark blue of Scotland after hitting form at club level.
“If you ask any Scottish boy it’s a dream – it’s what you always want to do, play for your country,” he said.
“I’m still hopeful if I keep going the way I’m going, you never know, hopefully I’ll get a shout and an opportunity to be called up to one of the squads.
“All I can do is keep my head down, keep working and, hopefully, the day will come.”
However, Gauld is realistic about his chances of making Scotland’s first major tournament in 23 years next summer, insisting the midfield talent in the squad is a contributing factor to his absence from the international scene.
He continued: “You look at the squad and the midfielders that are there – the level is unbelievable.
“Ryan Christie is scoring goals and setting things up, you’ve got (John) McGinn, Kenny McLean, Ryan Jack and Callum McGregor – it’s a very good squad.
“Even Ryan Fraser did well when he was playing behind (Lyndon) Dykes so it’s not like it’s an easy squad to get into.
“That’s why I’d be even more grateful if I was to get the call up.”
Survival is the aim for Gauld’s top-tier new boys Farense
Gauld made his loan switch to Farense permanent last summer, ending a coronavirus-curtailed season with promotion from Liga Pro, finishing the club’s top scorer and winning Player of the Year for the division.
Gauld said: “Looking back on it, a good season individually and for the club.
“I was hoping I would manage to catch the top scorer in the league at the time because I was going well.
“I had something like eight in six or seven games and the top scorer was only four away from me.
“With 10 games left I was pretty confident of catching him but I suppose I’ll just settle for Player of the Year – that’ll do me!”
“If you ask any Scottish boy it’s a dream – it’s what you always want to do, play for your country.”
His importance to the Faro side has continued in the top tier this term, with Gauld becoming a leader on the pitch with his play and often captaining the team.
Gauld hopes his form, and the team’s, can carry on as he targets survival and a cap call.
He added: “It’s been difficult so far because we’ve not kept an awful lot of what was there last year.
“We’ve got a lot of new boys in and it’s taken some time to get to know each other on the pitch.
“It was a tough pre-season because we couldn’t go anywhere. It’s been difficult but it’s the same for all the other clubs in terms of the virus.
“We’re slowly picking up – the last two or three games we’ve been a lot better. With three games coming up in the next week, hopefully, we can kick on and pick up a few results.
“The aim for any team coming up is to stay in the league – that’s the first thought.
“Even for United, to stay in the league on your first year back you’d be happy.
“You always want to push for more but it’s about having something to build on for the next year – that’s our aim here and we’ve definitely got a good enough squad to do it.”