NATHAN PATTERSON might not be getting as many first-team minutes under his belt as he would like at Everton but in truth, it’s hardly an alien situation to the promising youngster. 

After progressing through the youth ranks at Rangers, the 20-year-old found his path to the first team blocked by Ibrox captain James Tavernier. An approach from Everton in January gave Patterson a shot at the Premier League and he duly made his way down south but it has been far from plain sailing so far. 

Rafa Benitez brought Patterson to Goodison Park before being relieved of his duties a matter of weeks later. In came Frank Lampard to replace the Spaniard, and Patterson found himself having to win the favour of a brand new manager. 

First-team opportunities have been limited in England so far but Patterson takes solace from his continued involvement with the national team. The faith shown in the full-back by Steve Clarke means the world to Patterson, and fosters a steely determination to repay the Scotland manager in kind. 

That desire was certainly evident on Thursday night as Patterson rampaged up and down the right wing, tormenting his opposite number and generally making life difficult for the Polish defence. After struggling for any game time whatsoever of late, it was exactly the pick-me-up that the defender needed – even if the man himself is reluctant to accept his status as first pick at right-back. 

“It was good to be back playing again, especially in front of the home fans, that was a bonus,” Patterson said. “I’m delighted to get the nod and I did the best I could. 

“I have been working hard in training and making sure I am ready to play. I’m fit so I can go out onto the park and give my best and I did that. 

“I always want to prove to people how good I am, no matter what the circumstances are. I want to prove to the Scotland gaffer he’s right to pick me and to show the fans what I am capable of.  

“The gaffer shows belief in me and it is a great confidence booster for me. He picks me even when I am not playing and that’s why I always do my best to repay him. 

“The gaffer is great with me and he is very supportive. He always speaks to me before games and tells me to go into the match and not to force things. 

“He knows my position so it’s nice to have a manager who has been in my place. I can speak to him during games as well and he can talk you through situations.” 

Patterson continued: “Did I need this boost? Look it’s all about playing for me, it’s all I want to do. Any chance I get I will do my best and hopefully there are more opportunities to come my way. 

“I don’t see myself as first choice for Scotland, it’s about always trying to do well every time I play. If I can do that then I give myself the best opportunity to start the next game.” 

Patterson’s circuitous route to first-team football at club level hasn’t been plain sailing but it has instilled the defender with a healthy dose of resilience. He may only be 20 years old but he has already suffered his fair share of adversity in his short career, and Patterson wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“It’s football, I have had it a lot since I was young,” he reasoned. “I have good mental resilience and I believe in myself and know what I am capable of. 

“No one will tell me otherwise and I think that has helped me get to where I am today. It’s stood me in good stead so far in my career.” 

Thursday night’s 1-1 draw with Poland might not mean much in the grand scheme of things but Patterson believes he and his team-mates can take heart from another strong performance against a good European side. 

But for a dubious last-gasp penalty award in favour of the visitors, Scotland would have recorded a seventh consecutive win in a run that includes victories over the likes of Austria and Denmark. Patterson reckons the manner of the performance, where the Scots largely restricted Poland to the occasional half-chance, shows they have the capability to mix it with the best Europe has to offer. 

“We have a great group of boys and everyone is all together,” Patterson explained. “When you are on the pitch you feel like everyone believes in you and that’s a great booster for any player.  

“The other boys want to give you the ball and if you do something well they are quick to praise you. 

“On the other hand if something doesn’t come off, they are always on your side. It’s great to have that support from everyone. 

“We have a really strong side and every player we have in the squad is fighting for their position. Any player can come in and do a job in any game no problem. That shows the strength and depth we have right now. 

“Against Poland we were able to bring on guys like Ryan Jack, Kenny McLean and Stuart Armstrong. That shows the type of quality we have on the bench and the gaffer can turn to the bench when he needs people.”