09 Mar David Bates hoping big performance against Celtic impresses Alex McLeish
Rangers defender David Bates hopes to show Alex McLeish he is ready for Scotland honours by shutting out Celtic on Sunday.
The 21-year-old former Raith Rovers centre-back has established himself as a mainstay in the Rangers line-up under new boss Graeme Murty.
His impressive form has even kept Bruno Alves out of the side in recent weeks and now he is eyeing up a place in new national team boss McLeish’s set-up.
Bates insists he will not allow his focus to wander from club business as Rangers look for the victory this weekend which will cut Celtic’s lead at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership to just three points.
But he also knows he will boost his chances of landing a place in McLeish’s squad for this month’s friendly double-header with Costa Rica and Hungary – which is announced on Monday – by shackling the likes of Moussa Dembele.
He said: “I’m concentrating on games for Rangers right now and trying to keep my place in this side. That’s a tough job with the centre-halves we have at the club.
“If I keep carrying on like I am, other things like Scotland call-ups will take care of themselves.
“Sunday is the type of game where you can show you are ready for that next step. All the big games like those against Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts – if you can perform in those big games and have done it against the so-called smaller teams, it shows you’re ready for that next level.
“It would be good (to get named in the squad on Monday) but I’m just concentrating on the game in hand now.
“Rangers is first for me and trying to stay in the team as long as possible.”
Bates was handed his chance when Alves limped out of the last Old Firm battle just before new year.
It was a major test for the youngster but he proved he can handle the big occasion as he put in a resilient display to help Murty’s team claim a valuable point at Celtic Park.
He has now started all 10 of Rangers’ fixtures since that 0-0 December draw but while some have been surprised by his progress, Bates insists he always knew he could be a success at the club.
“I came in and did well in that last game at Parkhead,” he said. “But it was never a doubt for myself that I’d do well.
“It was no real shock to me. I knew myself that if I had to go I’d do fine. I went in, did my job, did the basics and sometimes you need to do that.
“I tried not to read too much into the reaction I got to that performance as you could always go out and have a bad game the week after but it was obviously good to get some good comments and for people to realise I was a good player.
“I’m just going game by game. The more I’ve been playing the more confident I feel. I feel that I’m playing better and better each week.”