SCOTLAND the Brave?

Cherries’ Celtic lionheart Ryan Fraser admitted a recent call from boss Eddie Howe had given him something of a fright.

Having not started in the Premier League for 11 weeks, Fraser feared the worst after being invited to a meeting with Howe on the eve of Cherries’ clash with Southampton.

Between mid-September and early December, a combination of a nagging hamstring injury and a dip in form had restricted the winger to just 23 minutes across two substitute appearances in the top flight.

Revealing the start of his chat with the manager, Fraser said: “He pulled me into his office and said ‘right, this is your chance – are you fit?’

“I said ‘yes, I’m fit’ so he told me to take my chance.”

A somewhat relieved Fraser, who spent Cherries’ first season in the Premier League on loan at Ipswich, certainly seized his opportunity after drawing first blood against Southampton with a finely-executed goal in the 1-1 draw.

“That’s what you need to do at this level,” said the 23-year-old, who is fast approaching his fifth anniversary at Dean Court, having been signed by Howe for £400,000 from Aberdeen in January 2013.

“I’m just glad the gaffer believed in me because I haven’t played much this season. That was only my fifth start in the Premier League.

“My confidence has been low so I had to clear my mind and say ‘right, let’s do this’. I know it’s harder to do it than say it but I just hope I did it.

“It was important to get the goal. It could have been my only chance this season, you never know. With January coming up, you never know what’s going to happen.”

Handed his top-flight debut at West Ham at the start of last season, Fraser’s game-changing cameo in Cherries’ remarkable win over Liverpool 12 months ago put his name in lights.

On as a 55th-minute substitute and with Cherries trailing 2-0, he won a penalty with his second touch after drawing a clumsy foul from James Milner before scoring his maiden goal in the Premier League and then providing the assist for Steve Cook to level. Nathan Ake’s dramatic stoppage-time winner capped Wee Man’s heroics.

The Guardian match report described Fraser as “a ferret in among Liverpool’s giant, rippling uber-athletes”, while nobody had included him in their official Fantasy Football team that week.

However, Fraser is fully aware he must realise his rich potential – or face the brutal consequences.

The affable Aberdonian said: “I need to kick on. I need to take the positives from the Southampton game and show everyone what I can do.

“I speak to the gaffer regularly and we both know the player I could be. It’s just getting it into my head that I need to start doing it now before I start getting old.

“I know I’m still young at 23 but I’m past the stage where I have potential – I need to do it now, otherwise I might not play again in the Premier League.”

Asked whether he feared being moved on in the transfer window, the twice-capped Scottish international replied: “You never want to think that but you always have it in the back of your mind. If I’m not performing or not getting a chance, you never know.

“I did have a bit of fear when the gaffer spoke to me because I want to stay here for a long time. I love it here and love where I live.

“It gave me a scare because I knew it could have been my last chance.

“He’s not frightened to give you a chance so, when you get one, as much as you need to repay yourself, you need to repay him as well.

“He spends extra time with me on the training pitch – he doesn’t need to do that, he’s a Premier League manager. He has helped me away from football as well and doesn’t need to do that either.

“But he’s that type of guy. Every player here wants to do it for him as well as for them, which is unique.

“He has taken me from Aberdeen to League One to the Premier League. He doesn’t need to play me but it’s great to know he trusts me.”