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Maloney hopes to impress

Shaun Maloney fears for his future with Scotland because of a lack of regular first-team action at Aston Villa. The forward confessed to homesickness when he first left Celtic for the Premier League but has since settled into life in the Midlands.

However, he has concerns about his inability, so far, to find a regular place in Martin O'Neill's plans and that could lead to some soul-searching over the summer.

Maloney flew to Prague with the rest of the Scotland squad yesterday and has a decent chance of being involved in tonight's friendly against the Czech Republic. This would be the ideal chance to impress the new Scotland manager, George Burley, ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, which begin in Macedonia in September.

"It's about time [I staked a claim] but if I'm not playing regular football for my club I can't expect to come in and play regularly for my country so I think that has to change," he said. "I have to play regularly at the club."

Maloney has been linked with a return to Celtic and asked whether his time in England's top flight had made him a better player, he replied: "I'm not sure. I've not played a lot of football in the last year-and-a- half so maybe not, no."

James McFadden, Alan Hutton and Steven Fletcher have all withdrawn from the squad through injury, along with the Rangers trio Kris Boyd, Steven Whittaker and Kevin Thomson, meaning only 18 players travelled.

Burley recorded a credible 1-1 draw with Croatia in his first game in charge in March and, while too early to assess his credentials as Scotland manager, Maloney has no complaints so far. He said: "He enjoys being out on the playing field and the way he plays is quite attacking so I've been quite impressed."