Ryan Fraser revealed it was his decision not to face Kazakhstan – and the Scotland wide player insisted he had little choice.
The Bournemouth winger sat out Scotland’s 3-0 defeat in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier in the Astana Arena after manager Alex McLeish declared both Fraser and Callum Paterson would be left out under an agreement with their clubs that they will not feature on artificial pitches.
Both returned for Sunday’s 2-0 victory in San Marino with Fraser playing 90 minutes and setting up Kenny McLean’s early opener. Paterson lasted little more than half an hour before going off injured after landing awkwardly on the grass pitch.
Fraser suffered a knee ligament injury during training with Scotland Under-21s which kept him out for several months in 2015 while Paterson suffered cruciate damage in his final game for Hearts before moving to Cardiff.
The pair were criticised by former Scotland captain Darren Fletcher but Fraser was unrepentant.
“Obviously you want to play in every game but I couldn’t play in the game,” the 25-year-old said.
“I’ve had four or five injuries on an artificial pitch and, look, from my club, to me, to Scotland, it’s just one of those where I couldn’t play on it. If I do a knee, if I do anything like that… It’s a decision I made.”
Scotland failed to build on McLean’s header and it took them until the 74th minute to get a second, but Fraser claimed they dealt well with the challenge posed by the lowest-ranked team in international football.
5 – Ryan Fraser has been directly involved in five goals in his last three appearances for Scotland, providing at least one assist in each match (1 goal, 4 assists). Supplier. pic.twitter.com/eJxe6OLQuz
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 24, 2019
“We said before the game, it didn’t really matter if we won 5-0, I don’t think it was going to change much,” the former Aberdeen player said. “But at the same time we just needed to do the job and get the three points.
“Yeah, we might not have won by an emphatic scoreline like everyone thought we would, but nobody is going to look back if we go through at the end and say we only won 2-0. Three points is all you remember, so we take the confidence from the game. We got the three points and we go into the Cyprus game.
“When teams throw eight behind the ball and defend like that and don’t really come at you, it’s always hard. We do training at it and it’s even harder. It was always going to be hard, even after the perfect start. With the conditions as well, it was just hard.
“Maybe people won’t agree with me but I thought we dealt with it well. Obviously fans are wanting more goals but I thought we kept the ball and at the end it could have been four or five if we had taken our chances.”
Many Scotland fans clearly disagreed as they booed during and after the match. Their frustration was mainly vented towards the Scottish Football Association but Fraser admitted he had to block out the negativity.
“It’s not nice,” he said. “You never want to get booed as a player but you have got to have thick skin. If you’re going to play badly and moan about it then you shouldn’t be a footballer.
“The fans have got their own opinion, you’ve got your own opinion as a footballer yourself.
“To be honest I don’t really listen to it. I played my own game, we played our own game within ourselves, and we don’t listen to the noise behind us.”