IT has taken him two years and three managers just to rack up three caps. But Ryan Jack’s Scotland career finally got underway in the sun-kissed environs of the GSP stadium in Nicosia on Saturday.

Booed by Aberdeen-based members of the Tartan Army on his full debut in a friendly against the Netherlands for having the temerity of joining Rangers, it has been one of the more awkward starts to a Scotland career in recent memory.

Deployed in that match at right-back, where he was frequently housed in the Scotland youth ranks, Jack was then called off the bench by Alex McLeish for a thankless midfield role as we trailed 3-0 in a friendly to Belgium.

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Then there was the rumpus which brewed up between his club manager Steven Gerrard and international boss Steve Clarke over the injury he aggravated during a Scotland training session which cost him the chance of another run-out against the Belgians.

All those frustrations, however, dissipated into the warm night air in Nicosia on Saturday night, as the 27-year-old finally got the chance to start a match for his country in his favoured position. There was nothing about the way he performed alongside Callum McGregor in a deep lying midfield role to suggest that he will be taken out of there any time soon. For all the talents vying for places in Clarke’s midfield, he is perhaps the most natural defender of the bunch.

“Is that my international career now starting for real? I hope so. I’ve always said I want to play for Scotland and be a part of it so I hope that is the case. I hope I did enough here to get the nod again in the future. Obviously, I can’t decide that, but I enjoyed every minute of it against Cyprus.

“Growing up, you always want to play for your country,” he added. “You see the games at Hampden when there are full houses and the atmosphere that creates. You want to be part it. So it’s obviously a proud moment every time you get called up or get a cap. But I don’t want to stop. I want to keep going and I want more. Hopefully, this can be a box ticked and I get the nod in the future.

“It was good to be in there [midfield]. I have come away with the squad, worked hard and the gaffer has been really good with me. It was obviously a tough night and a tough test, but it was job done and we got the win we wanted.

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“There are no easy games at this level but I felt I settled in fine. First half, we did well. Second half, they scored and that was a bit of a sickener but we showed a great attitude to come back and get in front again. The manager did say that if we face adversity we have to stand up to it. We did that so all round I’m just delighted that we got the job done.”

The relationship between Rangers and the SFA can be uneasy at times but in truth there is a long line of Ibrox-based Scotland heroes for Jack to emulate which includes the likes of Ally McCoist, Stuart McCall, Davie Cooper, Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor.

“I’ve played with Calum before for the Under-21s,” said Jack. “It was good. I enjoyed playing with everyone, to be honest. I felt we dug in well when we had to and showed a bit of resilience.

“The experience I’ve gained playing in Europe always helps, of course it does,” he added. “I’m playing for a good team at club level and facing good opposition in the likes of Porto and Feyenoord. That does help when I come away on these trips. As I said, I really enjoyed it and I’m just glad we got the win.”

Jack doesn’t accept that it is a straight shoot-out with Scott McTominay for the destroyer role in midfield. “If you look at the midfield there is talent right through it,” he said. “Kenny McLean and Scott McTominay are out with injuries. Then you have myself, Callum, John McGinn, John Fleck, Stuart Armstrong. The list is endless because there is that much talent in the one position.

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“Every time I get a chance, I just want to stake a claim. That’s all I can do. I’m sure the other boys are the same when they play. We are all working for the same goal and want to get to a major tournament.

“As a squad, we want to build momentum and get wins. It’s not all been positive in this campaign, but hopefully we can go three wins on the spin on Tuesday night. You want to put in the performances now to stake a claim for the huge games coming up in March. If we can get the wins and build momentum then hopefully we will go into the play-offs with a real chance. That’s what I am hoping for, that it’s a successful season. Everything is going well so far. Club level has been very good. I have been doing well in Europe and now I’ve got a start for my country after being called up.”