Jon McLaughlin on his Scotland call and why familiar Celtic stopper can help him get even better

Craig Gordon was the last player to join Sunderland from Scotland
Craig Gordon was the last player to join Sunderland from Scotland
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Sunderland’s past and present will meet next week as Scotland prepare for matches against Israel and Portugal.

Jon McLaughlin said shortly after his arrival on Wearside that playing in League One shouldn’t impact his international ambitions.

So it has proved.

The 31-year-old started his Sunderland career well but in recent weeks he has found another level.

Outsanding against Coventry City and Peterborough United, getting McLaughlin on a free is looking like an inspirational piece of business.

His recall is well deserved, and from a personal perspective, ‘really special’.

He knows he has a tough job dislodging former Sunderland man Craig Gordon but it is a challenge he rlishes, and he believes spending time with the experienced campaigner will only improve his game further.

“It’s great to be back involved with them,” he said.

“I’ve only recently started to get involved so it’s still really special for me. I’m sure the other lads are grateful for the break that myself and Tom have got them!

“We will avoid the photos popping up on WhatsApp group of the lads enjoying themselves! But I’ll enjoy the time and be ready to get back to the league.

“Scotland have got some very good goalkeepers, Craig and Allan McGregor at Rangers.

“They’ve got an awful lot of caps between them, massive experience they’ve had it boxed off for years and years now. For me it’s about enjoying the experience and whatever comes of it, enjoy being in those surroundings, training with that calibre of player and hope that it can add something to me as a goalkeeper that I can bring something back to Sunderland.

“I’m sure he still has really fond memories of his time here, he was a big signing at the time and had some good times, so it’ll be interesting to get his insight. It’s a great bunch of lads there so I’m looking forward to it.”

McLaughlin will hope to head to the international break on a high, with a win and a clean sheet against former club Bradford.

Despite his sparkling from Sunderland have shut the opposition out just once this season.

McLaughlin is eager to improve that record but he believes it is partly due to Sunderland’a attacking approach, one he believes will see the club succeed this year.

“You’ve got to hope that you can start to turn those nearly performances into complete ones, getting those clean sheets.

“At the end of the day we’re a team that’s always to hurt teams going the other way a lot, so that makes us more open to the counter attack, that’s just the nature of it.

“Peterborough are the same in that regard. You won’t always have the back door shut because that’s not what we’re about.

“We’ve just to become a bit more ruthless in games, we’ve been unfortunate in some respects because any mistakes the lads have made have been ruthlessly punished, but it’s something for us to be working on, we’re very aware of the areas we need to improve.

“It’s not for lack of trying or understanding, we know what it’s about.

“It’s a long season, until you’ve got past the halfway point you don’t really know where teams are so you can’t panic, you just keep plugging away. Don’t look at the points gap or anything like that. We have to back ourselves, do the work right.”