RYAN Fraser has revealed that he didn’t travel to Kazakhstan for Scotland’s opening Euro 2020 qualifier last week due to fears he could suffer a potentially career-threatening knee injury on the artificial surface in the Astana Arena.

And the Bournemouth winger has stressed that his desire to play for his national team and help them reach the finals next summer remains as strong as ever despite the flak that was aimed in his direction by supporters before and after that game in Nursultan as well as during the match against San Marino in Serravalle on Sunday.

Fraser and Callum Paterson of Cardiff City, who had both been named in Alex McLeish’s initial 27-man squad for the Group I double header, were lambasted when it emerged that neither of them would travel to Central Asia. The criticism of the pair intensified when the country slumped to a 3-0 defeat.

However, the 25-year-old, who is second behind only Eden Hazard of Chelsea in the Premier League assists table this season with 10 to his name, explained that he has been bedevilled by injury problems in recent seasons as a direct result of playing and training on plastic pitches.

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The former Aberdeen youth told how he had taken the difficult decision in conjunction with both Bournemouth and Scotland medical staff amid concerns that he would be seriously jeopardising his livelihood by taking part.

“I got a lot of abuse for that,” he said. “Look, I am not going into the game and saying ‘I don’t want to play for Scotland’. It is not like that. I have had four injuries where I have been out for months on end playing on Astroturf, with Scotland as well.

“I made a decision, the club made a decision, Scotland made a decision. It wasn’t just me who made it. So I didn’t play on it. Yeah, it was a bad result and I would have loved to have played in it, but I didn’t. I needed to come out on Sunday night and show what I could do if I got the opportunity.

“A lot of people have been saying ‘I’d do anything to play for Scotland!’ Look, I’d do anything to play for Scotland. But at the end of the day I need to look after myself as well. If I go out and do a knee it is career-threatening.

“I would have loved to have played. It’s one of them that is taken out of my hands as well. All I can do is get back in the team and try my best and do what I can do.”

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Fraser, who started for Scotland in their Nations League wins over Albania and Israel back in November, confessed that he had found viewing the Kazakhstan match, which his country lost 3-0, on television at home difficult.

“It was frustrating watching it,” he said. “When we went 2-0 down early doors it was always going to be hard. It was hard watching it. I’m not going to lie and say it was a good performance, it wasn’t a good performance. I was thinking Russia might slip up there the other night, but they went and won 4-0.”

Fraser’s week didn’t improve greatly after he met up with the Scotland squad on Friday and reclaimed his place in the starting line-up; he and his team mates were booed by the Tartan Army at both half-time and full-time during the unconvincing 2-0 triumph over minnows San Marino in Serravalle on Sunday.

He admitted the hostility of the Scotland supporters – chants of “sack the board” and “f*** the SFA” were also directed at watching officials during the course of the 90 minutes – coupled with the negativity of their rivals had made it an awkward game to perform in.

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“Obviously, with the atmosphere, it wasn’t great at times,” he said. “We were 1-0 up and obviously the fans were getting frustrated. But we were trying our best. Sometimes you can’t go and score and score and score after a good start. It was one of those games.

“You have to be thick-skinned. I have had fans on my back before, it is fine. You just need not to listen and to get on with the game and to try not to let it affect you and make you go negative. You must make the pass that you want to regardless of whether they moan at you. You just need to be thick-skinned and get on with it.

“Of course, we want the fans to be behind us. If they are it can help push you towards that next goal. But sometimes it can’t happen. You need to find it amongst yourselves to push through. Look, it’s frustrating we didn’t win by more goals.

“We knew they would sit back. They played seven at the back at times. When we got the early goal we kind of thought they might come at us a little bit more, but they didn’t. It was a little bit frustrating.

“Towards the end we could have had four or five goals, but we didn’t. Everybody expected us to beat them by a lot more, but it was a hard game to play in to be honest. But the main thing is three points. We move on from the game, that’s all we can do. We go on to the next game. The next two are important.”