Henry Smith believes Gordon Strachan should go with Craig Gordon between the sticks when Scotland kick off their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign in Malta on Sunday.
David Marshall, who this week moved from Cardiff to Hull City, has been Strachan’s preferred choice for most of his time in charge of the national team, with Gordon’s involvement mainly coming in friendly games.
Smith, who won three caps for Scotland whilst playing for Hearts, will be in Malta for the Group F opener and believes Gordon’s previous error-free performances in dark blue should give him the edge.
“That I don’t know, it’s a question mark,” replied Smith when asked if Strachan would start the Celtic keeper. “Jim Stewart [Scotland goalkeeping coach] and Gordon [Strachan] will have a look at him in training and see how Craig is, how his demeanour is, and if he’s on fire in training then he’ll go with him no problem.
“He’s not done anything wrong for Scotland so personally I think he should go with Craig.”
Gordon’s domestic future at Celtic Park is also far from certain.
Brendan Rodgers dropped the ex-Hearts and Sunderland man for last weekend’s win over Aberdeen as new signing Dorus De Vries got the nod instead.
It was a decision that surprised Smith, but he is sure Gordon will be back in favour before long. “Craig set himself standards when he went to Celtic, and when you let those standards drop, the fans and the press will have a little go,” he explained. “They’ll pick up little things that he’s doing wrong – no big, monumental mistakes, but the little things that maybe lead to a goal.
“He’s got another good keeper there in De Vries though – with a name like Dorus he needs to be! He’s really decent. He came in for Craig last week which I was a wee bit surprised about, but Craig will want to fight for his place and get back to his best and his coach there, Stevie Woods, will get him going again.”