'To score a hat-trick was perfect'

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Robert Earnshaw put rumours of a move to the Premiership out of his mind after scoring the hat-trick which demolished Scotland in Cardiff on Wednesday, insisting he was more concerned with retaining his place in the Wales side.

The Cardiff striker took his international tally to six in 10 matches with three in the 4-0 win over Scotland, making it 27 for the season in all competitions. Earnshaw has been trailed by a number of leading teams, and with Cardiff reportedly £16m in debt, there is talk of an offer they just cannot refuse.

Doubts over whether he can play at the top level are rapidly disappearing, although Earnshaw himself never had any in the first place. He said: "Wherever I play, for Cardiff or Wales, all I want to do is to score goals. It is my only aim. And I would like to feel that whenever I step up a level I prove I can handle it. Whatever I do in life I have that attitude to take everything in my stride and not have a care in the world. It is that attitude that has taken me a long way.

"I have been coming in to fill other people's boots - John Hartson and Craig Bellamy - and they are great players. But I am my own player and want to show that I can be more than just a substitute. Hopefully I can keep my place for the next game, but you never know in football.

"I would like to think that I have made my mark. In the past I have not always started internationals, but hopefully I have put myself firmly in Mark Hughes' mind.

"And to get a hat-trick was a perfect night for me, just like when I scored against Germany on my debut. And yes, I am claiming the second goal, I connected first, then it came off Gary Naysmith's head and back on to my shoulder before it went in. That is mine."

Earnshaw became the first player to score a hat-trick for Wales since Ian Rush against the Faroe Islands in 1992.

The Wales manager, Hughes, will now find it hard to leave him out for next month's friendly international in Hungary, and Earnshaw was delighted with his and the team's performance to help to wipe away the bitter memories of the Euro 2004 play-off defeat by Russia.

Earnshaw said: "It was the first time we had played since the Russia game and hopefully this win makes up for that result a little bit. It was a great night; a special day for me and the team. I thought it could not get any better than when I scored against Germany, but this was the exact same feeling. I am so happy, I do not think I will sleep too much for a while.

"It was nice to get the Russia business out of our system, to get it out of the way and play our first game since then and turn in that sort of performance.

"We needed a great win, that was what it was all about."

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