Callum Paterson has become a symbol of Cardiff City’s street-fighting resurgence, according to his manager Neil Harris.
Scotland international Paterson has scored four goals in his last seven games for the club, propelling them from the middle reaches of the Championship to within touching distance of the play-off places.
The 25-year-old has done it – says his manager – on the back of hard work and a resourceful attitude, plus the advice given from his boss who scored 156 goals during his own career as a striker.
Paterson has been a utility player since he arrived at Cardiff almost three years ago. But at the Bluebirds prepare to face Stoke City away on Saturday, he appears to have finally found his vocation as a powerful presence up with front, and one that carries a high degree of nuisance value.
“He plays with a big heart and big desire and he wants to play as an attacking player,” said Harris of the striker, who has become first choice ahead of Danny Ward and Robert Glatzel.
“If I said to him go and play in goal, he will. Right back – the same. Will he get things wrong? Yes. We all appreciate that with Callum, he’s a wholehearted player.
“But he is enjoying time under me at the minute where, tactically, he is learning his position. He has to keep improving and doing it.
“He has given us so much as a target and a runner – goals, he gets people off their feet in the stadium. Every time he chases a lost cause the fans get off their feet and sing his name and he builds momentum.
“Then, you’ve got Will Vaulks chasing and his long throws – it builds momentum and scares the life out of the opponents.
“When Callum scores goals, players are pleased for him, staff are pleased for him, fans are delighted for him. He’s a big character in the changing room.”
Paterson now sees himself as a striker or No.10, but a player that still carries a utility value he hopes can get him back in the Scotland squad as they chase a place at this summer’s European Championships.
The former Hearts right-back has dropped out of the international reckoning since suffering an ankle injury against San Marino away under former Scotland manager Alex McLeish in March 2019.
Now managed by Steve Clarke, Scotland face Israel next month in the Euro 2020 play-offs and Paterson said: “I’m patriotic – I’ll be the kit man if he (Clarke) wants me to be! I’d like to play up front or as a 10.
“I’ve played at the highest level in those positions and hopefully I get the opportunity. Every game I play I give 110 per cent. I want to eventually get back in the Scotland squad.
“Euro 2020 is a massive goal for me. It’s the pinnacle of my game – playing for the national team.
“There are massive games coming up. It’s a chance to qualify for the first time in a long time and I’d love to be part of that – to get my country to a major finals.
“It is long overdue. We’ve had some great squads in the past and unfortunately just missed out, but this squad is amazing and hopefully I can get back in it.
“We’ve just not gelled, but we’re getting there. Results have shown that recently and I think the team could be really good.”
Scotland meet Israel at Hampden Park on March 26. If Clarke’s men win that game they will then face Norway or Serbia for a place at their first major championships since the 1998 World Cup.
“My dad is always telling me he wants to see me play there. He’s pretty proud of me already, but playing in a major tournament would be amazing,” said Paterson.