Hearts’ Steven Naismith ‘in pole position’ for Scotland striker berth

Steven Naismith is in fine form for Hearts. Pic: SNS
Steven Naismith is in fine form for Hearts. Pic: SNS
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Scotland coach James McFadden says Hearts striker Steven Naismith is in “pole position” to keep his place in the national team when they play Israel next month in the Nations League.

Naismith bagged a goal and assist in last week’s 2-0 win over Albania and the in-form 32-year-old has enhanced his credentials as Scotland’s main striker.

Responding to Celtic forward Leigh Griffiths’ expression of disappointment after reading reports that Steven Naismith was first choice to face Israel, McFadden said: “The manager’s comments were maybe taken a bit out of context.

“He didn’t mean Steven Naismith was going to be the number one striker and that was it, case closed. He meant that, from his performances, and the way he trained, that he was in pole position to hang on to the jersey. And quite rightly so, I would have given him the other goal as well and made it two goals.

“Steven’s sharp. Last season when he came into Hearts he looked as if he was lacking fitness and sharpness.

“Because he has had a couple of serious injuries, you were maybe thinking that was Naisy on the slide. But he’s had a fantastic pre-season.

“He had problems with his heel towards the end of last season and he seems to have sorted them out, he has a programme that he sticks to.

“He was breath of fresh air coming into the Scotland training, as was shown by his performances as well, and that’s why he was picked.”