ANDY Carroll will reject the chance to play for Scotland as he feels it is far too early to turn his back on England after just one season of regular first-team football at Newcastle United.
Carroll was not at his best in the 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough at the weekend, but was still in the right place to snatch a late equaliser as he stabbed in Ryan Taylor cross with just eight minutes remaining on the clock.
And the 21-year-old’s rapid development under Chris Hughton in the Coca Cola Championship has won him plenty of new admirers, including new Scotland boss Craig Levein who has instigated a charm offensive to try and persuade the big centre forward to play for the senior side north of the border before he gets a sniff of an England call-up.
Carroll has been flattered by the interest and has not ruled it out in the future, but for now he is determined to continue an encouraging international career with England’s Under-21 squad. “I have heard I am wanted by Scotland,” said Carroll, with a hint of embarrassment.
“I am obviously doing well with the England Under-21s at the moment and I will see what is happening there. I would be lying if I said that the Scotland thing wasn’t in the back of my mind. It is there. It is nice to know I am wanted. But England is where I am from, it is my country and that is who I want to play for really.
“Scotland is in the back of my mind and it is flattering to be wanted by the new manager.
“A few of the backroom staff at Newcastle are Scottish, and are getting on to me about playing for Scotland. They keep telling me to get up there.
“You never know. That might be what ends up happening.
“It is my grandma who means I qualify for Scotland, but I’m English. England is my number one target really.” Carroll took his tally for the season to 12 against Middlesbrough, although Peter Lovenkrands has moved level with Kevin Nolan at the top of the goalscoring charts with 13 after his first-half strike at the Riverside.
Carroll claims he is not overly fussed by the race to finish the season as the team’s leading goalscorer, even though it is something he always dreamed about as a youngster.
He said: “It would mean more for me to finish as a top scorer as a striker. But it’s not that important to be honest.
“What’s important is that we get back in the Premier League and get out of this division.
“It would mean something because I was a fan before I started playing, but we know promotion is all that matters to us all.
“Boro edged in front and it looked like we might lose, but I always thought that we had the quality to get the equaliser when we did fall behind.
“That is how it proved. I thought it was slipping away from us. They kept pressing when they scored, but we levelled. It shows our resilience to dig out that result. We all stuck together and we worked hard as a team to stay in the game.”