Hearts explain why they didn't want John Souttar in Scotland squad for World Cup qualifiers
An international recall for Hearts defender John Souttar can wait for now, according to the Edinburgh club’s manager Robbie Neilson.
Calls for the 24-year-old to be included in the Scotland squad for next month’s World Cup qualifying triple header were ignored by national coach Steve Clarke on Tuesday.
He named a 26-man pool for games against Denmark, Moldova and Austria while resisting any temptation to bring Souttar back into the international fold.
The last of the centre-back’s three senior caps came against Israel in October 2018. Since then he has been beset by persistent injuries, including ruptured Achilles tendons.
Hearts were reluctant for him to be thrust into vital international fixtures having played only 11 competitive club games since April after 13 months out.
Neilson told the Evening News that the focus for Souttar remains playing 90 minutes every weekend, with the possibility of Scotland recognition for October’s internationals.
“From my perspective, John just needs to play week in and week out. I think this international break is probably just a bit too soon for him to go and potentially play three games in a matter of days,” said Neilson.
“He still has to prove his real game-readiness. I think possibly he could be involved in the next international squad if he continues the way he is going here. For us, I think he just needs to focus on Saturday to Saturday with Hearts.”
Souttar has been ever-present for the Edinburgh club this season with the exception of last month’s final Premier Sports Cup group game against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.