Falkirk midfielder Craig Sibbald insists the disappointment of his constant Scotland Under-21 rejection does not get any easier to accept.
At the age of 20, Sibbald has been exposed to more competitive experience than each of the other midfielders listed in Ricky Sbragia’s squad as he closes in on reaching the 200 appearance milestone at the Bairns.
Falkirk manager Peter Houston has also been baffled by Sibbald’s omission, with the highly-rated playmaker having been overlooked by his country since being included in under-17 and 19 squads.
But with Falkirk in a two-way battle with Hibs to finish second in the Championship, Sibbald, who is set to face Rangers tonight, is refusing to allow his head to drop.
He said: “I was a bit gutted I was not included but I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.
“I still get disappointed because everyone wants to play for their national team.
“I’ll keep working hard and hopefully the chance comes.
“It’s a compliment if the manager’s said I should be in the squad because it shows he believes in me.
“It’s nice to hear that but it’s not him that picks the team so I’ll need to try and impress the ones who do.”
Sibbald reckons one way he can catch the eye of Sbragia is to become a greater threat in the final third.
He added: “Hopefully I can add more goals to my game and the next time I’ll be picked.
“No-one’s ever spoken to me or told me what more I could be doing, but I know myself I should be scoring more goals.
“If I add that maybe it will make the difference.
“I stay back after every training session to work on my shooting and free-kicks.
“I’ve got three this season and seven last year, so I want to beat that.
“I’ll need to get a move on.”
Falkirk will bid to inflict another league defeat on runaway Championship leaders Rangers tonight to extend their lead on third place Hibs to six points.
But with their Leith counterparts having two games in hand as things stand, Sibbald knows the battle for second is set to go down to the wire.
He added: “We want to try and secure second place so it’s been good to have had the games to put a bit of pressure on Hibs.
“Every game is important as we move towards the end of the season and we’re looking for three points against Rangers. I’d rather have played the games and have the points in the bag than be in Hibs’ position.
“They’ve got to play a lot of midweek games, which puts more pressure on them. All we can do is keep winning our games.”
Sibbald was part of the Bairns team that beat Rangers 2-1 in December and is adamant they will go toe-to-toe with Mark Warburton’s outfit in this evening’s televised encounter.
He added: “We’ve done well against Rangers this season, especially the game we won at home, so there are no fears on our part.
“Hopefully we can keep that up.
“I think they should show us respect but, at the same time, they’re playing well and won’t fear anyone.
“We’ll go in with the same mindset as we always do against them, to try and keep it tight and hopefully nick something.”