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Saturday 30 August K.O. 17:30

  • 92

FADDY GETTING BETTER

FADDY GETTING BETTER

Scotland manager Alex McLeish believes James McFadden's football will move to a new level now he is playing regularly for Everton.

The Blues' striker has been one of the first names on the Scotland team sheet throughout their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign - with his winning goal in the recent 1-0 success in France testament to his importance for his national side.

But a succession of niggling injuries and intense competition for the striking positions at Everton mean he has not been a regular in the Everton side.

However, he has now started four consecutive matches for Everton following his recovery from a foot injury and has netted three times in that period - including the crucial second goal in the recent 3-2 victory over Metalist Kharkiv in the Uefa Cup first round, second leg.

McLeish, speaking ahead of Scotland's crucial match against the Ukraine at Hampden, is delighted to see McFadden impressing at club level and maintaining the form that has made him such a hit for his country.

He said: “While he is playing out of his skin, I think James is a humble person. I don’t think he is the sort that would ever say, ‘Look, I’m a superstar’. Yes, he has a swagger, but is humble with it and that is what you like to see in young footballers.

“He scored a cracker in Europe again last week for Everton and it is a bonus to have him scoring at club level because it hones his sharpness and keeps his confidence up. He is a key player for us now.

“James is a good type and is probably a little bit embarrassed about the whole thing [in Paris] but I would like him to embarrass me again. He keeps his feet firmly on the ground. Sometimes footballers can change and become precious but James is a good type.

“Davie Moyes [the Everton manager] has brought in a striker who cost £11 million [Ayegbeni Yakubu] and it is difficult for him to leave players like that out. I can accept that, so it is good to see that James is being picked on the basis of his recent good form.

“I keep saying it, it is not about how many times you get knocked down, it is about how many times you get back up again. McFadden has bundles of character and has proved time and time again he can come back from a setback. He has never let us down, regardless of whether he has been out of the Everton team or not.

“I know he only played for 45 minutes at the weekend but I can understand after a long trip that he was maybe a little bit tired. Davie has obviously done me a favour there and saved him for Scotland.”

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