In the aftermath of Scotland’s scoreless World Cup qualifying draw at Hampden Park on Saturday against Serbia, Vancouver Whitecaps Designated Player Kenny Miller was defiant, insisting he wants to carry on representing his country as long as he can.
“There has never been any question about wanting to continue,” Miller told Scottish newspaper the Daily Record after his 80-minute shift. “I’ve always wanted to play and always will – but I’ve had to think about how to manage it. As long as the manager’s happy, and I’m still performing, then hopefully it’s not too much of a problem.”
The forward insists he wants to stay in Scotland manager Craig Levein’s plans, and will push for a loan move during the MLS offseason to stay fit ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifying double header in March.
“These games against Wales and Serbia will obviously be an issue,” Miller said. “We finish in November and preseason doesn’t start until February, so it’s not great preparation for a double-header in March when you want to be at the top of your game. So I’ve thought about a loan spell towards the start of the year. It’s something I would maybe look at come January 1.
“I’ll have to train during the MLS close season, but will wait and see what can and can’t be done.”
While not altogether writing off the possibility, his coach this side of the pond seemed to pour cold water on the idea of a loan deal.
“No one has come at me so far with an offer to do that, but if someone does, then we would consider it at that point,” Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday. “But generally players going out on loan from MLS – it’s only happened to a few players, it doesn’t happen that often.
“Players maybe talk about it, but it’s usually not something that comes around in my experience.”
The timing of this particular international window has worked out well for the Whitecaps given the team’s bye week. In any event, Rennie has repeatedly stated he wants the club’s players to be playing at a level where they’re called up for international duty, even if it means missing the odd match.
“Most of the time, it’s not a problem when there’s games called off for FIFA dates, which normally there is,” Rennie said. “I think it’s something that can be managed. It’s an honor to play for your country and something that I’m sure all players want to do as long as they can.
“So we wouldn’t be looking to stand in anyone’s way with that.”
It’s a good thing, too, as by the sounds of it, Miller is in it for the long haul, even if it means a reduced role.
“I imagine this will be my last chance at a finals, but I can’t see me ever really retiring,” Miller said. “I’ll do this campaign and being realistic, that’ll probably be it. But if I’m still able to play at the start of the next campaign, I’ll still be putting myself forward.
“That’s up to the manager, if he feels he wants to move on, but the time will never come when I say that. I’ll be wanting to play as long as I can. You’d like to think the guys coming through might have knocked me down the pecking order but you can always play a part, can’t you?”
Miller and Scotland take on Macedonia at Hampden Park on Tuesday.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.