Former Celtic boss in stirring defence of Hearts star Lawrence Shankland as he slaps down 'unfair' accusation

The striker netted vs FinlandThe striker netted vs Finland
The striker netted vs Finland | SNS Group
The Hearts striker is in Germany with Scotland right now.

Gordon Strachan isn’t having any of the debate that Lawrence Shankland isn’t international quality.

The Hearts striker scored in Scotland’s final Euro 2024 warm-up match vs Finland last week. All eyes now turn to the tournament opener on Friday against hosts Germany but debate is rumbling over who starts in attack.

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Che Adams and Tommy Conway are others at head coach Steve Clarke’s disposal, with former Celtic and Scotland boss Strachan not impressed by some of the criticisms around Shankland’s displays. He has issued a strong defence of the Hearts forward.

He told Prime Casino: “What is international level? Hungary and Switzerland, what level do most of their players play at? Where do most of those guys play and for what clubs? There are a couple if that in each team who play at the top level. Granit Xhaka is one of them. Dominik Szoboszlai is another, but the rest?

“Where are they from? Are the clubs that most of these players play for as good as Celtic and Rangers? Shankland scores goals against Celtic and Rangers, so I think it’s unfair when people say that a player can’t play at an international level.

“If you’re talking about the biggest and he best nations, the nations with the best players, your Brazil’s, then I think you can talk about international level. There are grades to international levels, which is shown by how international teams are grouped in the Nations League.

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“If you’re talking about the top grade, then maybe some people have a point. Would Shankland play for Brazil? Probably not, but if you’re talking about the grades below that, then, yes, he’s absolutely ready to play at an international level.

“I like Shankland as a player. I think he’s intelligent. That intelligence has helped him as he’s got older. He’s twenty-eight, so coming into his prime. His body shapes become stronger; he has upper body strength.

“He uses his body well and he can work with midfield players in terms of his link up play and movement. He's improved immensely over the last four years. He understands what he's good at and what he's no good at. He finishes all sorts of goals: right foot, left foot. He can head the ball as we saw against Finland.”

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