Christophe Berra champing at the bit for a chance

Gordon Strachan chats with Christoph Berra
Gordon Strachan chats with Christoph Berra
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When Scotland last faced England 15 months ago, Christophe Berra didn’t even make the squad as he was just beginning to get his career back on track following an unsavoury end to his time at Wolves.

Now in the form of his life with Championship high-fliers Ipswich Town, the 29-year-old former Hearts captain is desperate to feature at some point in tonight’s Celtic Park friendly against the Auld Enemy.

Since losing his place in the Wolves side almost two years ago following his refusal to sign a new contract, Berra, a first-pick under previous Scotland manager Craig Levein, has slipped beneath the likes of Russell Martin, Grant Hanley and Gordon Greer in the battle for a centre-back slot.

He is hopeful that Gordon Strachan will choose to give fringe players such as himself some game time this evening. “You’re always hoping you’ll be involved,” Berra told the Evening News. “It just depends on how many changes the gaffer wants to make from Friday’s game against Ireland.

“All I can do is train well while I’m here and play well for Ipswich, which I have been doing. It would be great to get on the pitch because I missed the last game against England. If you’re not playing, it’s always disappointing but I’m part of a good group of boys and we have a good team spirit and enjoy working together.”

Regardless of whether he features or not, Berra is adamant Scotland won’t be treating tonight’s match as a friendly. “When it’s Scotland-England, there’s no such thing as a friendly,” he said.

As a former Hearts academy graduate who continues to keep a keen eye on the fortunes of the club that gave him his start in the game, Berra, pictured, was encouraged to see 20-year-old Jambos right-back Callum Paterson join him in the Scotland squad last week. He has been impressed with the way the South Queensferry youngster has acquitted himself among Scotland’s top players.

“Hearts have always been well-known for bringing players through the academy who go on to bigger and better things, so it’s good for the club that Callum’s continuing that,” said Berra. “It’s a good experience for Callum. He’s come in and done well in training. We’ve done practice matches and he’s not looked out of place.

“He’s quite a quiet boy. It’s difficult when you come into the full squad and you don’t really know anyone. But I’m sure he’ll come out of his shell the more squads he’s involved in. When you come into the squad as a young boy you can be nervous, but when you get out on the pitch you just do what comes naturally.

“He just needs to go back to Hearts and keep developing and playing regularly. If he does that, he’ll have many successful years ahead of him.”