Sep 11 2013
Barry Bannan is looking to the future with real optimism for club and country after continuing a dramatic turnaround in his personal fortunes by helping Scotland to a 2-1 victory over Macedonia.
Bannan set up Ikechi Anya's opening goal as Scotland moved off the bottom of their World Cup qualifying group and above their hosts and Wales.
Gordon Strachan handed the midfielder a start on the right-hand side despite him only making one appearance in the previous five months, which came in Scotland's 1-0 victory in Croatia in June.
The 23-year-old had been frozen out at Aston Villa and told he would not play for the club again but he secured a move to Crystal Palace hours before the transfer deadline last week.
Bannan did not have time to meet his new team-mates before flying north following his late call-up to the Scotland squad and he will report for training for Ian Holloway's side on a high following his performance and the result in Skopje.
The Airdrie-born midfielder, who made 83 appearances for Villa, told Press Association Sport: "Things are looking up. Obviously the last couple of months have been a bit down for me but I'm sure I will come out the other end stronger for it.
"After the win I'm buzzing and I'm on a high going to a new club. Hopefully I can get settled in and start playing and getting games under my belt. Things are looking good at the minute."
Bannan's enthusiasm for his new career at Selhurst Park is matched by his feeling for Scotland's future fortunes.
The win in Macedonia, which came courtesy of Shaun Maloney's 89th-minute free-kick, was only Scotland's second of their Group A campaign but they have come in consecutive away games and the way Strachan's men passed the ball and took the game to their hosts on a poor surface was further cause for optimism.
Bannan said: "It was a disappointment the other night losing to Belgium so we tried to come over to Macedonia and get three points and we have done that so everyone is buzzing.
"We thought we could have got something from Belgium but you can't take it away from Belgium, they are going to be a strong, strong team in the tournament when it comes around.
"There wasn't any shame in losing to them the other night. And we have come over against another strong team who are good at home and we have turned them over.
"So I think you can see big signs of improvement under this gaffer and hopefully it's a sign of things to come."
Bannan was grateful to Strachan for giving him his 13th cap despite his lack of first-team football this season.
Bannan was not even training with the first team at Villa Park as Paul Lambert continues to re-shape his squad so he did not expect to be involved at international level.
But he justified his inclusion with a solid display capped off with a driven pass to set up Anya on the hour mark.
"It was going to be tough for me," Bannan said. "I had not kicked a ball since the Croatia game because of circumstances at Villa, so I was just happy to be back out on the pitch playing again.
"I can't thank him (Strachan) enough. I said before I was lucky to be in the squad for this one because I had not kicked a ball all pre-season, so a lot of managers would look at that and say: 'He's not ready, he has got to play before he gets called up.'
"But this gaffer has shown great faith in me and hopefully I have repaid that. The ball set up nice for me to play through to Ikechi and he took it brilliantly so it was a great night for me."