England midfielder tells TheFA.com that he's ready to get back...
Exclusive: England midfielder tells TheFA.com that he's ready to get back on the scoring trail for his country after a season full of goals for Manchester United...
Paul Scholes makes no attempt to avoid the issue. "It's been a long time since I've scored for England - two years," he says.
"You do think about it because in my mind I'm a goalscorer. I may not be a striker but I see myself as a goalscorer. That's what people expect of me and that's what I'm always looking to do. If I'm not scoring, I'm not happy."
It was away to Greece in June 2001 that Scholes last found the back of the net for England. Since that time he's scored 29 goals for Manchester United in his most prolific spell to date at club level.
The disparity in the return is a confusing conundrum. So does Paul think he plays a different game at club level to international level?
"In the past I probably did play in a slightly more advanced role at United than with England but that's changed now with us playing the diamond formation with England," he says.
"The diamond allows me to get forward more which is what I like to do. Having Phil [Neville] there is brilliant too. I've played with him long enough to know that he'll sit there in front of the back four doing a lot of the defensive work, giving me the freedom to go forward.
"I know I still have to do my share of defending but, playing at the top of the diamond, my priority is to get forward."
Last week the England skipper, Michael Owen, described how much he enjoys playing with Scholes in close attendance to the strikers.
"Having Paul Scholes near you on the football pitch is a brilliant feeling," said the skipper. "It's almost a telepathic understanding."
It's a compliment that Paul appreciates - in a couple of senses.
"I like to be close to the strikers, playing quick one or two touch passes," he says. "That's my strength."
"And obviously Michael is the kind of striker that you are looking for all the time. Whenever I get the ball, my first instinct is to look for him and see if I can pick him out."
Scholes is the most experienced member of the current England squad. His 56 caps just beats Gareth Southgate's 54 and he knows that, both for him individually and for the team collectively, the tie against Slovakia is one of the most important games of recent times.
"It's been a long summer and obviously we wouldn't have necessarily chosen to play a match at this time," he explains. "But the boys are hungry, we know why we're here and how important this game is for us."
And when better for Paul to get back on the goalscoring trail than in the game on Wednesday?
"That would be nice," he agrees with a smile at the prospect of adding to his current tally of thirteen international strikes.
"The manager has kept faith with me even though the goals haven't been going in for me of late. It's a nice feeling for me to know that he has got confidence in me and it would be great to repay that confidence with a goal."
Paul Scholes was talking to Daniel Freedman
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Place of Birth: Salford, England
Date of Birth: 16 November 1974
Weight: 11 00
Height: 5' 7''
Club: Manchester United