Hearts set target in an effort to get more players capped by Scotland

Robbie Neilson today set out a directive to get more Hearts players capped by Scotland following World Cup play-off qualification.
John Souttar hugs Hearts team-mate Craig Gordon after Scotland's win on Monday.John Souttar hugs Hearts team-mate Craig Gordon after Scotland's win on Monday.
John Souttar hugs Hearts team-mate Craig Gordon after Scotland's win on Monday.

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon and defender John Souttar both played key roles in Monday’s 2-0 win over Denmark, which secured seeded status for March’s play-off semi-finals.

Gordon was restored as No.1 by national coach Steve Clarke in September and has recorded five shutouts in seven international appearances since. Souttar returned from a three-year injury absence against the Danes, marking the occasion by heading his first international goal.

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Others at Tynecastle Park also harbour ambitions of forcing their way into Clarke’s squad. Manager Neilson has helped revive the careers of defender Stephen Kingsley and winger Barrie McKay, both of whom already hold Scotland caps.

Neilson stressed to the Evening News that Hearts hope to have more of their squad called up in time.

He played for the club during an era when several players like Gordon, Steven Pressley, Andy Webster and Paul Hartley were established names in the Scotland squad.

“Hearts should be a team up at the top end of the league. By being at the top end of the league, we should have good Scottish players who are getting into the national team. That’s what we need to try to achieve,” said Neilson.

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“We have gone through a period where we had very few players in the Scotland squad, if any. Now we are starting to get a couple in. We want to try and get a few more and a few more. It’s important for us.

“It’s nice to go along to a game and see your players involved. I’m sure it’s the same for all the Hearts fans. You can sit and watch a Scotland match and, with two players from your club playing prominent roles, it makes it more enjoyable.

“We all want Scotland to win. When you have one of your own in there, it’s more enjoyable. Hopefully we can get back to the days where we’ve got four or five in the squad instead of just two. That might take a wee bit of time.”

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