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Oli McBurnie says questions over his Scotland commitment ‘does hurt’

Scotland v Russia – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Oli McBurnie does not care about people criticising his football ability but admits he is hurt by those who question his commitment to Scotland.

The Sheffield United striker has twice been at the centre of those accusations in the past 14 months, firstly when a jocular comment made to club and international team-mate John Fleck was caught on camera and shared on social media.

Last month he was criticised on social media after pulling out of the Nations League openers through injury before playing 45 minutes of a pre-season friendly the following day.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke quickly defended the striker after agreeing to the plan of action with the Blades.

McBurnie is back in the squad ahead of Thursday’s Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel and insisted there is no prouder time than pulling on the dark blue.

The Leeds-born striker told the Official Scotland Podcast: “People are well within their right to question my ability, that’s more than fair enough.  If people don’t like me as a footballer, that’s fine.

“But for me the hard one is the commitment because ever since I’ve been a kid I have seen myself as Scottish. That does hurt me.

“I have told the story many times where England were playing and me and my brother would go to school with Scotland flags painted on our face

“The football one hurts my family more than it hurts me but I am used to that stuff. I am kind of a love-hate person or player, a lot of people like to not like me.

“My mum and dad like to read that stuff and I keep telling them not to read it, it’s never going to get any better.

“The older I got the more mature I have got and the more I have realised you are never going to please everybody. And especially the way I am as a person and a player, I am definitely never going to please everyone.

“That side of it is fine but all the boys in the squad know me and know how much I want to be here and help the team as much as possible.”

On last month’s furore, he said: “My manager at Sheffield United and Steve Clarke had sorted all that out between them and it was nothing to do with me.

“I can understand from the outside how it looks but it’s easy to get on top of me.

“I hadn’t trained all pre-season, I had been out for six weeks and I did one day of pre-season training and came on at half-time in a pre-season game.

“Anyone in football knows that 45 minutes of a pre-season friendly to run around is completely different to an international qualifying match.

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“But my performances for Scotland have not been what I would like them to be and I haven’t carried my club form into the internationals when I have been playing well.”

The former under-19 and under-21 international is desperate to get off the mark for the full team after nine caps.

“It does hurt me, it really does hurt me that I haven’t scored yet if I’m being completely honest,” he said.

“I have done a lot in my career so far. I have just turned 24 and played in every division from the Conference up to the Premier League and scored in every division, made my international debut.

“There’s a lot of things I have ticked off and the one thing I haven’t done is scored at international level, and not just score one, score goals.

“It looms over me a little bit but there is no point thinking about it too much.

“It’s the pinnacle of football and you’re not going to get six or seven chances a game, you might get one chance a game and you just have to be ready to take it.

“Thursday would be a delightful time to take it. It’s the sort of stuff that you do dream of. But we will not talk too much, we will see what happens and fingers crossed.”