CALLUM PATERSON proved he can be Scotland’s right-back for years to come with a solid performance in the 5-1 World Cup qualifying win in Malta.
The Hearts defender started the match ahead of the vastly experienced Alan Hutton and looked assured on his competitive international debut.
As Hutton gazed on from the substitutes’ bench in the Ta’ Qali Stadium, Paterson set about staking his claim for this campaign.
He attacked regularly down the right flank, delivering crosses into the penalty area and showing his aerial prowess at set-pieces. He also defended resolutely against a useful-looking Malta attack.
The only downside to a pleasing Scotland win was the goal scored by Malta striker Alfred Effiong. That brought the teams level on 13 minutes but little blame could be attributed to Paterson.
Effiong was to be marked by centre-back Russell Martin but found space in between Martin and Paterson to head a cross beyond David Marshall and into the net.
Scotland recovered to post a resounding win and move top of the group, with Robert Snodgrass scoring an impressive hat-trick.
Paterson’s contribution should see him retain his place for Scotland’s next qualifier against Lithuania at Hampden in October.
A regular at Hearts for the last four seasons, the 21-year-old is keen to further his career at both club and international level.
He made his Scotland debut in a friendly against Italy - also in Malta’s Ta’ Qali Stadium - back in May, and is eager to cement himself as Gordon Strachan’s first-choice right-back.
He proved he can handle international football and harbours both the physique and ambition to reside in Scotland’s starting XI for many campaigns to come.