St Johnstone’s Jason Kerr has Scotland call-up aim

© SNSJason Kerr.
Jason Kerr.

Jason Kerr has no bitterness over his Scotland under-21 snub.

And the St Johnstone centre-back has already set his sights on earning a place in the senior squad.

Kerr’s club manager Tommy Wright  was puzzled with the explanation given by 21s boss Scot Gemmill for leaving him out of his latest double-header, despite him being an ever present in the summer Toulon Tournament.

The defender shared Wright’s confusion but has taken it on the chin and believes he has the capability to join the emerging crop of young centre-halves who have been capped in the last few months.

“The gaffer phoned me to say I wouldn’t be in the squad because he wanted to go with younger players,” he said.

“So it was a bit confusing to see boys who are older than me in there. It’s one of them. That’s football.

“I felt I did well in Toulon so it’s a strange one but I don’t have hard feelings about it.

“I am grateful to Scot for giving me my chance with the under-21s and picking me to play in a tournament over the summer.

“It was good to see the team beat Andorra 3-0 because they are all my pals so I was delighted for them. I would love to be back in again in future because you want to play for your country and I think it’s good for my development.

“But we will just have to wait and see what happens. It has given me a taste of international football and I would love to make the step up.”

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Kerr added: “Scott McKenna, John Souttar and Jack Hendry have all had their chance in the last few months so hopefully I can be the next one to get that opportunity.

“We have a lot of good young centre-halves at the moment and I believe I can make the step too.

“In the last few years I feel I’ve progressed a lot and the next challenge is to try to get to that level.

“You have to believe in yourself but for anything like that to happen you have to do well for your club.”

Kerr’s route to become a Premiership regular has been different to the likes of Souttar.

“I didn’t come through the pro-youth set-up,” he said. “I was in boys’ club until I came to St Johnstone at 17.

“But through going on loan to East Fife and Queen of the South I have played a decent amount of football.

“So I just want to keep my progress going and see how far I can take it.”

McKenna has a chance of making his comeback from injury for Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park on Saturday. His is a story that Kerr couldn’t fail to be inspired by.

“Scott is the benchmark for young players in Scotland right now,” he said.

“I remember speaking to him and he was saying he wasn’t even getting on the bench at Ayr.

“Within a year he’s playing every week for Aberdeen and has captained the full team.

“Aberdeen have also thrown out some massive bids for him as well, so it just shows what’s possible.

“He has been given his chance for both club and country and has grabbed it.

“It was looking bleak for him at one stage but he’s now one of the best players in the country.

“It’s a massive turnaround and you have to take inspiration from people like that.”

After the Dons, Rangers, Hearts and Celtic (twice) follow for Saints.

“We have a tough five game spell coming up but we have started the season well,” said Kerr, whose partnership at the back with Joe Shaughnessy has been a major part of Saints’ recent impressive run of form.

“The depth of our squad is good this year. The manager has added a few players.

“He brought Ross Callachan and Swanny back on deadline day and that gave the fans a real boost.

“Although I’ve known him for a while I’ve never actually played with him.

“We haven’t given him stick for coming back again – if he plays like he did last time everyone will be delighted.”