Having taken the well-trodden journey south, Sheffield Wednesday newcomer Mark Reynolds is now hoping it can propel him into claiming a full international ticket with his beloved Scotland in the not-too-distant future.
It goes without saying that the Tartan defender’s immediate focus is reclaiming Championship status for the Owls in May, 12 months on from the club leaving the second tier in heartbreaking fashion.
But centre-back Reynolds, who completed a six-figure move from hometown club Motherwell at the start of the week, would be lying if he didn’t admit that he had one eye on international business after making his switch to South Yorkshire, believed to be for an initial fee of £150,000.
If Wednesday do seal promotion back to the Championship, it should – all things being equal – put him into firm international reckoning, with Scotland selectors having not been shy in terms of calling up players from the division, one of the most competitive around.
The likes of Derby’s Kris Commons and QPR’s Jamie Mackie have featured for Craig Levein’s side this term, despite playing their club football in the Championship.
Middlesbrough’s Kris Boyd, Barry Robson and Stephen McManus are also Scotland squad regulars, despite plying their trade in the second tier, with the Championship arguably of a higher standard than the SPL – Rangers and Celtic apart.
Across Yorkshire, Leeds United wingman Robert Snodgrass is expected to receive his long overdue first full Scottish cap shortly – while others such as Doncaster Rovers’ Martin Woods are also harbouring hopes, along with Reynolds, capped at B, under-21 and under-20 level in the past.
Reynolds – tipped by Motherwell youth development head Gordon Young as a full Scottish international in the waiting and a future £1m player – said: “The Championship is a massive league with some quality sides in it and the main focus is getting this club back there this season.
“Hopefully any success I do have will be noticed and picked up by the selectors who pick the Scotland team.
“Scotland players have been picked from the Championship and everyone knows how strong a league it is and it’s something the selectors are aware of. I think they are watching and are willing to play players of that standard.”
Despite Wednesday currently residing in the unfamiliar surroundings of League One, Reynolds admits he had no hesitation in signing up to be part of Milan Mandaric and Alan Irvine’s brave new world at
Hillsborough – with destination Premiership the ultimate aim.
Speculation of clubs being interested in his services south of the border has followed Reynolds around for some time. Championship promotion-chasers Swansea City made moves back in late summer, with the defender in the final year of his contract at Well.
But it’s Wednesday and boss Irvine who have beaten rivals to the punch to land Reynolds, subject of a failed big-money move worth £750,000 to Rangers in June 2008.
It ends a long association with Well for the player, who joined the club as a 12-year-old and who played over 200 games – and despite his wrench at leaving, he insists it was something he had to do with the go-ahead ambition at Wednesday making his decision easier.
He said: “I had just six months left on my contract (at Motherwell) and it put the club in a difficult situation in terms of whether they want to keep you or try to move you on and get some money. they decided to cash in.
“It was good to eventually get away, although I have been at Motherwell since my early days but it was a hard decision to make.
“However, coming down here made it easy. It’s a massive club with a great set-up and it’s one that is on the up and wanting to go places
with a lot of ambition with the new chairman.
“Being used to a team and moving suddenly is a bit strange. But I’ve really enjoyed training and had a great start.
“A lot of (Scottish) players want to play football down in England and obviously, the Premiership is one of the best leagues in the world, with quality players.
“This is a club that wants to go places and ultimately get back to the Premiership and it’s great to be involved in something so positive.
“The chairman has put money into this club and wants them back in the Championship and then the Premiership and he has spoken a lot of sense.
“The club ticks all the right boxes and it just seemed the right move at the right time – its ambition matched my own.
“Swansea showed a bit of interest in the last transfer window, but that bid got rejected in the summer and now Wednesday have come in and I wanted to be involved.”
In terms of first impressions, Reynolds feels that he has made the right decision to join Wednesday and link up with fellow Scot Irvine, who has trailed him for a few years – ever since he took over as boss at former club Preston North End.
That said, Reynolds doesn’t have to be told twice that the competition to claim a place in the Owls back four will be ultra-intense in the second half of the season, with his arrival quickly following on from six-figure deals to land fellow defenders Reda Johnson and Michael
Morrison – with it being a case of all change on the defensive front at Hillsborough.
Reynolds said: “There’s a lot of strength in depth and it’s going to be hard to hold down a place with the quality in the squad.
“You are playing for your jersey every week and plenty of people are staking their claim.
“It’s a great position for the club to be in and everyone will be pushing each other.
“One of the big pulls for me is working with the gaffer (Irvine), who had tracked me for a couple of years. It’s great to have that endorsement off a manager and it gives you confidence in your ability.
“Training has been unbelievable and I don’t think anyone at the club has a bad word to say about the manager.
“Everything seems fresh and positive.”