Craig Gordon: Hearts goalkeeper's new targets driving recovery from double leg break

Craig Gordon has set his sights on playing for Scotland again when he returns from injury.

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson has revealed that the 40-year-old goalkeeper, the most-capped player in the club’s history, is using his rehab as extra motivation to add to his tally of 74 international caps.

“When he was playing he was always looking at the next objective, whether it was 700 games, clean sheets or appearances in Europe, so this injury has given that hunger in his belly to try and get back playing,” said Neilson. “Not just at Hearts but at international level as well.”

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Currently sixth on Scotland’s all-time list, Gordon needs two more caps to join Paul McStay in joint fifth and three to match fourth-placed Alex McLeish’s haul of 77. In the meantime, Hearts teammate Zander Clark could be in contention for a call-up when Scotland host Cyprus and Spain in Euro 2024 qualifiers in March after a string of impressive performances as Gordon’s replacement at club level. Scotland boss Steve Clarke could be considering Norwich City goalkeeper Angus Gunn, who qualifies for Scotland through dad Bryan, along with Motherwell’s Liam Kelly.

Footage of Gordon undergoing light gym work appeared on social media this week – just four weeks after the double leg break he suffered at Tannadice on Christmas Eve. The Hearts skipper, who also announced his engagement to former Celtic TV host Summer Harl this week, has already been ruled out for the rest of the season with a predicted recovery time of six months, but fully intends to resume playing in time for the 2023/24 campaign.

Gordon’s next X-ray is due at the end of February. He has been working on his knee and ankle joints, his range of movement and leg muscles after having had metalwork inserted following surgery. Neilson, who has been involving the captain in the dressing room since his operation, is not surprised by the skipper’s determination and progress.

“He’s an inspiration to all the players here and outwith this football club,” said the Hearts boss. “At his age he is so desperate to come back and he is putting all the work in, doing everything he can. So there’s no surprise from our perspective.”

Speaking to Sky Sports, Neilson added: “We’ve not really put any kind of timeline on it. It’s a case of making sure Craig gets back to full fitness, first and foremost. If you ask him, he’s pushing all the time, but from our perspective we’ll just give him the time he needs and when he is ready he will be back.”

Craig Gordon still harbours ambitions to add to his tally of 74 Scotland caps. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

Speaking to BBC Scotland earlier this month, Gordon said: “I’m going to give this everything I've got. I've done it before, I can't make any promises. I am going to try and do the best I can and hopefully that is good enough. I know that if I fight my hardest then I usually manage to get what I want.”

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Craig Gordon is the sixth most-capped Scotland international of all time. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS