Hearts defender John Souttar 'proud' of Scotland recall after fearing he might not play again
Hearts defender John Souttar is “proud” to have earned a Scotland recall after a three-year wait.
The 25-year-old centre-back has been in fine form for Robbie Neilson’s men this season and it was no surprise when he was called up for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova on Friday and Denmark on Monday as a late replacement for the injured Grant Hanley.
Souttar has three Scotland caps, but has not represented his country since being sent off in a 2-1 defeat away to Israel in October 2018.
Three ruptured Achilles tendons in three years since then have restricted him to only four first-team games for Hearts last season and 11 the season before.
However, he is in good shape physically this term and a consistent run of games brought him to the attention of Scotland head coach Steve Clarke, who sent assistant John Carver to watch him against Deundee United on Saturday.
"It's been a long few years," Souttar told BBC Scotland. "It was a proud moment to get the call.
“When I was coming back from my Achilles injury last year, that was probably the moment when there was a bit of a doubt whether I'd get back playing, never mind at this level.
"As soon as I got back, I never doubted myself. My body's feeling good. Physically and mentally, I've benefited from that time not playing football.
“For me, it is brilliant to be back involved. I tend not to look back too much after what I’ve been through because it is done now. I just want to look forward and enjoy my football. I’m sure that’s me over injuries for my career, hopefully.”
Fit and firing on all cylinders, Souttar’s performances have played an instrumental part in Hearts’ strong start to the season.
He is out of contract next summer but is loving every minute of the campaign so far.
He said: “It’s brilliant to be part of. We’ve been through some tough times and tough seasons, but this season feels really good.
“It’s a really good group of boys we’ve put together and we’re performing well. We’re playing good football, but we have good players in the squad, good strength in depth.
“Everyone going to the games is enjoying it – fans and players. We’re enjoying the whole atmosphere. Tynecastle has been bouncing.”
Souttar joined the Scotland squad for a recovery session on Monday and settled into the camp quickly.
He explained: “The mood is positive. It can’t be anything other than positive the way it has been going. Everyone seems to be in a good mood and in good spirits and looking forward to the game.”
Souttar's younger brother, Harry, is a club-mate of Stoke City striker Jacob Brown, who has been called into Scotland squad for the first time.
Lyndon Dykes is suspended for Friday's game in Moldova, where a win would secure a World Cup play-off place.
The elder Souttar said of Brown: "My brother raves about him, says he's an unbelievable athlete. He's scored five goals for them this season, got assists and my brother says he's a really good player. I'm sure he'll be an asset to the country.”