Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon hopes this summer will produce the highlight of his career
The goalkeeper is expected to be named in the Scotland squad tomorrow for upcoming World Cup qualifying ties. First-choice David Marshall is recovering from a back injury and his deputy is poised in case he needs to step in at any point against Austria, Israel or the Faroe Islands.
Marshall, 36, has missed the last four games for his club, Derby County, but was among the substitutes for Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Millwall. Gordon spent the afternoon recording his ninth clean sheet in 26 games as Hearts beat Ayr United 2-0.
Now he will await news of Steve Clarke’s latest squad. Were he to get the No.1 shirt, it would be a priceless opportunity to impress ahead of this summer’s European Championship.
Despite winning trebles and playing the Champions League with Celtic, plus his English Premier League experience, repesenting his country in a major tournament would be the pinnacle for 38-year-old Gordon and most others.
“Yeah, I think so. Everybody wants to be fit and in that squad to start with,” he said. “Once you’re there, you want to try and play in a Euros. That’s going to be the highlight of most people’s career in that squad.
“We’ve got everything to play for and great motivation to perform well between now and the end of the season. We all want to give ourselves the chance to be in that squad.
“I’d love to be there. It’s going really well for the national team with the Euros to look forward to. I hope to stay in the squad with that coming up. The only way I do that is keep performing well here.”
He wasn’t overly troubled at the weekend as Hearts moved 15 points clear at the top of the Championship table. They were held at 0-0 for a long spell but an extremely well organised Ayr side playing under new manager David Hopkin for the first time.
Armand Gnanduillet's header from Andy Irving’s 72nd-minute free-kick broke the resistance before Jamie Walker lashed home the second goal on 85 minutes. Gordon played out his 200th game for the Edinburgh club in quiet fashion.
“I’m pleased to mark the milestone of 200 games,” he said. “I’ve not had as many clean sheets as I would have liked this season. That’s seven in the league now so hopefully we get a few more between now and the end of the season.”
Potentially, Hearts could now seal automatic promotion at Dunfermline in three weeks’ time if results between now and then work in their favour.
“We just have to keep getting three points and, if we do that, the games will start to run out for everyone else. We need to try and keep that gap,” said Gordon. “No team in this league is going to hand us points. We need to work for every victory.
“We did talk about getting the ball into the danger area quicker than we did in the first half. Eventually, people tire and spaces open up so we managed to get the breakthrough.”