Charlie Mulgrew is enjoying life at Blackburn Rovers
But he reckons making the switch to Blackburn Rovers last August has taken his game to new heights and he is now better equipped to shine for his country.
Mulgrew has been starring for Blackburn as they bid to pull clear of the Championship relegation zone under new manager Tony Mowbray.
And the 31-year-old insists the relentless demands of life in England’s second tier have improved him as a footballer.
Defender Mulgrew is no stranger to the division, having spent two seasons at Wolves after leaving Parkhead first time around in 2006.
Rovers may be sitting third from bottom but they have beaten leaders Newcastle twice, with Mulgrew scoring the winners in both games.
And he feels the competitiveness of the league has given his game an edge that was lacking when he was part of a Celtic side dominating the Scottish top flight.
Stars who have played in both Scottish and English Premier Leagues
Fri, April 15, 2016
Express Sport takes a look at some of the greatest players who have appeared in both the English and Scottish top flights in recent times
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Express Sport takes a look at some of the greatest players who have played in both the Premier League and the Scottish Premier League (now Scottish Premiership)
Mulgrew said: “It has been good, I’m enjoying the change. It’s something different, playing different teams and we’ve got a big challenge for the rest of the season.
“At the time a lot of people thought it wasn’t the right move for me, but I wanted to do it.
“I wanted to experience something different at this stage of my career, and at my age it was probably my last chance to go down south.
“Off the field everything has been great. On the field it has been difficult in terms of picking up results but I’ve never regretted my decision. I’m enjoying the challenge.
“A lot of the games are more even down there and that was part of why I wanted to go down.
“I wanted to be part of that, and I feel it has improved me as well.
“You have a lot of the ball at Celtic, in most games you’ve got at least 60-70 per cent possession.
“In England there’s more defending to be done, but I’m enjoying it.
“The regular involvement has prepared me for this week.
“I like to play as many games as I can and I always feel my best when I’m playing games.
“The fitter you are, the better it’s going to be for you. I feel I’ve improved since I’ve been at Blackburn. It has opened my eyes a bit.
“While I’ve been down south before, I didn’t play as much as I have recently.
Charlie Mulgrew is currently on international duty with Scotland
“I’m really enjoying it. I feel more prepared now and that I’m a better player, more experienced.
“It’s a more demanding league. Every game is genuinely 50-50. It’s an interesting league and good to be involved in.”
Mulgrew received a late call-up as defensive cover for the qualifier with England last November but didn’t play.
Now he is ready to star in the centre of defence as Scotland host Canada in tomorrow’s friendly before Sunday’s win-or-bust clash with Slovenia.
He said: “I’ve played mostly in the centre of defence this season. I spoke to the manager about that because he likes to play football from the back and that suits me.
“I’m happy to play wherever I’m needed, but I probably prefer centre-half or midfield.
Charlie Mulgrew won five titles with Celtic
“When you concede goals or things don’t go right it’s easy to point to the centre-backs.
“But as a team you defend and attack. We all take responsibility for that.
“Slovenia is a big game for us. If we can win it we’ll be in a good position.”
Many critics feels Scotland’s World Cup hopes are already over but Mulgrew wants to prove them wrong.
“That’s typical, people just want to be negative – they build it up and then they just want to get on the negative,” he said. “That’s something we need to deal with.
“The most important thing is the game on Sunday. That is our main focus. We’re doing everything we can to win it.”