Phillips excited by Scotland chance

Blackpool's Matt Phillips

Blackpool's Matt Phillips

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Blackpool winger Matt Phillips hopes to ease Wembley heartache by finally making his Scotland debut this weekend.

Boss Craig Levein has already indicated that the 21-year-old will earn his first cap against the United States in Saturday’s friendly in Jacksonville.

For Phillips, the prospect of making his international bow is the ideal tonic just days after the devastating blow of losing the npower Championship play-off final to West Ham.

The result may have cost the Seasiders their chance to return to the Barclays Premier League but Phillips can at least look forward to taking the next step in his own personal development.

He said: “It was a massive disappointment at Wembley.

“We had a great season at club level and, personally, I think I had probably my best season.

“Hopefully, come Saturday, I can cap off a good season with a Scotland cap.

“It was a massive disappointment for the whole club - not just me.

“We really feel we deserved to win the game but in football you don’t always get what you deserve.

“To now come away with Scotland, it’s a great feeling to be here and I’m just happy and looking forward to the game.”

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Phillips’ impressive form has not gone unnoticed and he has already been linked with Everton, Stoke, Reading and Swansea.

But he said: “I don’t think you can think about things like that until something happens and Blackpool accept an offer.

“I don’t think it will be on my mind. I’ve still got a season and an option at Blackpool so I’ll take it as it comes.

“Blackpool is a big club and they have a great manager and a great set of boys. I enjoyed my season, I enjoyed playing the football we played and whatever happens will happen.”

However, Phillips - who netted 18 goals for Ian Holloway’s side this season - admits to being flattered by the reported interest.

He added: “It’s good, it gives you an extra boost to know that you are doing well and that other people are noticing.”

For now, he is keen to focus on impressing Levein ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, which begin with a meeting against Serbia in September and would officially confirm his status as a Scotsman.

Born in Aylesbury and having already represented England at under-19 and under-20 level, Phillips caused a stir when he switched allegiance to the Scots.

His eligibility comes courtesy of Scottish grandparents and, speaking at the team’s training base in Florida, Phillips said: “I’ve got no regrets. It was a decision that I made over a long period of time.

“I’ve had various meetings with the scout, Mick Oliver, and the gaffer so I’m delighted and I’m looking forward to the future.

“I always thought it was important to come away before the qualifiers to get the experience and get to know everyone and the set-up and I’m really looking forward to the games now.”

A hamstring injury denied him a debut in Scotland’s last outing, a friendly in Slovenia in February, and Phillips is delighted the wait is about to come to an end.

He said: “Since I made the decision, I’ve been waiting for the next game.

“I missed out on the Slovenia game through injury so I’m delighted to be on this trip and hopefully get my cap.

“I came up and met all the staff and the players in the last squad before Slovenia but I think training is the best place to get to know people and how they play.

“I had my first training session here this morning. It’s nice to be around the lads again and get to know them all.

“It was disappointing to miss the Slovenia game but I didn’t want to go out and try to perform at only 50% fit.

“I’m happy now that I’m free of injury and can go out and play.”

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