RYAN PORTEOUS has vowed that he will not be overawed by the burden of Scotland’s 22 year exile from major finals if he is handed his debut in the crucial Euro play-off clash with Israel.
The Hibs defender has been selected by manager Steve Clarke for next Thursday’s semi-final at Hampden and the upcoming UEFA Nations League encounters with Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Porteous’ inclusion is a reward for his impressive form in helping Jack Ross’ side climb to third in the Premiership ahead of this evening’s visit of Hamilton.
The hopes of the nation will once again fall upon the 11 players Clarke sends out against Israel as Scotland look to move within touching distance of reaching their first international competition since the World Cup in 1998.
And the 21-year-old is adamant he will take it all in his stride if selected.
Porteous, who was also drafted into last November’s squad but did not feature, said: “Everybody knows what is at stake, the pressure on it.
“The quality in the team is there, we have some real good players in there and hopefully we can get the job done.
“It would be a big opportunity, I would be looking at it as a special moment for me.
“It’s my first cap and you need to go and put a good performance in.
“It is a big game but we play big games every week and hopefully this one won’t be too different.
“It is a big step up to senior level. Everyone is trying to impress at club level, obviously.
“But you’ve got maybe less than a week’s worth of training to catch the eye at international level, hoping to impress the manager in two or three games.
“So it is difficult. Everyone trains at their maximum capacity – and that’s what I’ll be doing.”
Porteous was only eight months old when Scotland kicked off France 98 with an agonising defeat to Brazil.
Watching old videos of the country’s previous games at major finals has whetted his appetite and he is hoping to make sure the Tartan Army can once again dust down their passports.
He said: “You’re a bit jealous when you see people who have been away from Scotland at Euros, I’ve seen footage of these games and it’s great to see.
“That’s the kind of thing you want.
“When everyone else was at the Euros a few years ago, we were supporting any team that was playing England and hopefully people are supporting us now.
“We’re in a good place right now, we have good players and hopefully we can get the job done.”
With Porteous being suspended for the Under-21s Euro qualifier with the Czech Republic, Scotland boss Clarke saw it as a good chance to have another look at the centre-half.
Scot Gemmill’s side also take on San Marino four days later but Porteous is determined to remain in the senior squad.
He added: “I could go back, it depends what the manager thinks but I want to try and stay in the first team.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and my mindset right now is solely on trying to get my first cap.”
Scotland will have to get past Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano if they are to beat Israel and Porteous admits Thursday will be one occasion when he hopes the 30-year-old is not at his best.
He added: “I’m just not wishing him any luck.
“He’s been in great form, a massive help for us at the back.
“We just have to hope that doesn’t continue into the international break – or at least not the first game, anyway.”