Exclusive Paul Gallagher PNE column

I only managed to pick up one international cap with the Tartan Army
I only managed to pick up one international cap with the Tartan Army
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OUR match against QPR at Loftus Road this weekend is our final game before the third international break of the season.

A few of the lads in the squad will be going off representing their countries, such as Bailey Wright, Jordan Pickford and Alan Browne.

It still pains me a little that I have never added to the one Scotland cap I won way back in 2004.

I was just a 19-year-old kid at Blackburn breaking through when the Scottish manager of the time Bertie Vogts called me up for a friendly against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The match was not particularly memorable – we were beaten 4-0, with Rob Earnshaw scoring a hat-trick.

But it was a great occasion for me making my international debut – coming on in the 67th minute for Colin Cameron.

That remains my only appearance for the Tartan Army and why I have not made more appearances, I cannot tell you.

I feel I should have played more for Scotland, but that’s football.

Some managers have their opinions and if I’m not in their plans, then that’s the way it is.

It did upset me a little bit to be constantly overlooked, especially when I moved to Leicester and was playing well under Sven-Goran Eriksson when he came in as manager.

I remember one season, I scored 12 goals for the Foxes and was credited with something like 15 assists.

I got the Championship player of the month award and I was coming up against other Scottish lads on a regular basis.They were getting picked, yet I was not.

When you think that Scotland have not qualified for a major competition since France ’98, I feel I should have been given more chances to represent my country.

Scotland almost qualified this time for Euro 2016. We had a good qualifying campaign, but we just came up short.

There are some good players in the Scotland squad – people like Steven Fletcher, Shaun Maloney and Scott Brown.

They are good players and lads I played alongside at Under-21s level.

Gordon Strachan has gone in there as manager, settled it down and done a good job. I think he was unlucky that we did not qualify.

I think he’s been offered the job again to carry on and I think he will eventually lead us to success.

There are some good young players coming through like Andy Robertson – the full-back at Hull – and Celtic’s James Forrest.

Scotland qualifying for a major championship is long overdue and I am sure the whole nation will get behind Strachan and the players in the next few years.

Whether I will figure at all, who knows? I’m 31 now and I have just got to continue to play well for Preston.

At the end of the day, while I am not playing international football, Preston are getting the best of me and that is all I’m concentrating on.

It’s been a great honour to captain Preston over the last few games.

I must admit it was a big shock to be handed the armband against Charlton after Tom Clarke suffered an injury in the previous game at home to Cardiff.

It’s something I have enjoyed and so far I have an unbeaten record as skipper!

I’ve always felt I’ve been a leader and a voice in the dressing room. I’m one of the more experienced players in the squad – myself, John Welsh and Jermaine Beckford are the oldest I think.

I try to lead by example on and off the pitch – although many of the lads will probably tell you I still like to mess about a lot and joke around.

But I know when to be serious and when to have a laugh.

I try to help the younger lads and pass on advice – there’s a lot of good young players here, who are willing to learn.

I think they look up to people like myself, Jermaine Beckford, John Welsh, Joe Garner – for what we have done in our careers.

I always remember when I was at Blackburn having experienced players like Garry Flitcroft and David Dunn encouraging me when I was a young player.

When I was not in the team, they would come up to me, tell me I was a good player and to stick at it.

Also the way they trained and went about things every day has stuck with me to this day.

Hopefully, I am setting the same example here.

I am really looking forward to our game against QPR. Loftus Road is a tight ground, very hostile, and I love to play in that kind of atmosphere.