Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: McFadden Keen to Prove a Point; Everton Star Chasing First Start of McLeish's Reign

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: McFadden Keen to Prove a Point; Everton Star Chasing First Start of McLeish's Reign

Article excerpt

Byline: By Lisa Gray

THE last time James McFadden faced South Africa, he missed the flight home. This time, he is determined not to be left behind.

The Everton forward, 24, is hoping to force his way back into the Scotland set-up ahead of next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Lithuania and France and regards tomorrow night's friendly against South Africa as the ideal stage to demonstrate he still has plenty to offer the national cause.

A fractured metatarsal has deprived McFadden of international football since last October's trip to the Ukraine, where the Scots suffered one of the few setbacks of an encouraging campaign so far.

Since then, Alex McLeish has replaced Walter Smith as the man to impress and McFadden is keenly aware that a better first impression than the one he offered as a Scotland debutant five years ago would be wise.

As a fresh-faced teenager with Motherwell, McFadden made his international bow in a Reunification Cup match against South Africa during Scotland's visit to Hong Kong back in May 2002.

But he grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he over-slept after a night on the town to celebrate the end of the tour and missed the scheduled flight home.

Thankfully for McFadden, Berti Vogts gave his 'Cheeky Boy' a second chance and the talented targetman has made another 30 appearances in the dark blue of Scotland since that infamous ind iscretion.

"It was a blip and I'm thankful to Berti Vogts for keeping faith in me and putting me back in," he said at Pittodrie yesterday, the venue for tomorrow night's game. "I'm sure I would have got back in somewhere along the line but maybe it could have ended there. Thankfully it didn't and I've had a good career with Scotland so far.

"It was my first game for Scotland and I think I got about 15 minutes and that's about all I remember. I've changed a lot since then, I've obviously grown up and got older."

Dundee United's Barry Robson earned his first senior call-up when he was named in McLeish's 22-man pool last week, following praise from none other than Thierry Henry after impressing in a preseason friendly against Barcelona. …

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