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Ryan Porteous feels Watford move has benefited his Scotland career

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Mar 2024

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Ryan Porteous feels the last 18 months have “catapulted” him to a level where he is at home on the international stage and ready to excel for Scotland at Euro 2024.

The 24-year-old was first called up to the national squad in November 2019 but had to wait until a Nations League match against Ukraine in September 2022 to make his debut.

Since that night in Krakow, when he helped secure a spirited goalless draw, Porteous has become a mainstay in Steve Clarke’s defence, accumulating nine caps and starting eight of the last nine competitive matches.

Porteous feels his status within the squad has also been aided by the fact he has been playing regularly in the English Championship for the past 14 months after moving from boyhood club Hibernian to Watford in January 2023.

“I think it came at a good time for me, the move and my debut,” he said. “It catapulted me a little bit and made me feel more comfortable within the group and more comfortable within myself.

“I didn’t feel like I needed to show anything to anyone in particular but maybe just to myself to give me that peace of mind that I could do it.

“Everyone’s always learning but I’m still at an age where hopefully I’m just going to get better, and I need to keep doing that.”

Porteous, who earned a reputation during his time at Hibs for being rash and hot-headed in terms of his approach to defending, feels moving away from home last year has helped him mature as a footballer and a person.

“I think the move came at a good time,” he said. “It’s been an up-and-down season for Watford but I’m really enjoying it.

“Off the park, I’m down there myself a lot of the time but I think it brings you on as a person meeting new people from different cultures, especially within the changing room, where a lot of different languages get spoken as well. I think it’s brought me on a lot over the last 14 months.”

Porteous has got himself in prime position to be part of Steve Clarke’s 23-man squad for the Euros but, with fellow right-sided centre-back John Souttar now back in contention after his injury troubles, the former Hibs man is taking nothing for granted.

He is viewing the friendlies against Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday and Northern Ireland at Hampden next Tuesday as an opportunity to further enhance his claims for a seat on the plane to Germany.

“It’s been quite a quick 18 months since I’ve been starting games for Scotland and I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Porteous.

“I feel comfortable in there but nobody’s place is safe. You need to keep showing it in games and in training and for your club.

“Steve’s always been loyal to me, even when I wasn’t playing for the national team, he was still calling me up to squads and kind of developing me behind the scenes.

“It’s always good to repay someone that’s shown a lot of faith in you. Over the last qualifying campaign, I played my part in helping us to get there so hopefully I’ve repaid a little bit of that faith and showed him that I can be involved (at the Euros). There’s still a long way to go (before selection) though.”

With the Euros now less than three months away, any injury picked up in the weeks ahead could prove damaging, but Porteous – whose fellow Scotland defenders Aaron Hickey and Grant Hanley are battling to get fit for the summer showpiece – is adamant he will not change his approach to protect himself.

“I don’t think you can think about that too much,” he said. “I’ve got important games coming up for Watford so I’m going to be fully committed in every game I play.

“Touch wood, I’ve been fit and healthy for the last few years so hopefully that continues.”

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