John Souttar speaks after leaving Hearts as Rangers' new signing looks to the future and reflects on Scottish Cup final
John Souttar has spoken publicly for the first time since making his final Hearts appearance in the Scottish Cup final.
Souttar spent more than two months out with an ankle injury and returned just in time to start against Rangers in the cup final. Hearts lost the match 2-0 but he delivered an imperious display which convinced national coach Steve Clarke he is ready for international duty.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s brilliant to be back in with the boys and I’m looking forward to the games,” he said in an interview with the Scottish Football Association. “There is quality throughout the squad but there are good people as well.
“People have been here consistently, we’ve named a similar squad and you saw the quality from the last games. We’ve just got to keep it going.
Scotland are unbeaten in eight games and Souttar wants to extend that run after a strong season at club level. “Yeah, I’ve enjoyed my football this year. Only really the last month and a half or two months have been difficult, being out injured,” he said.
“To get back playing at the weekend, obviously the result was disappointing but for myself it was good timing to allow me to get back in the Scotland squad as well.
“I think that was the important thing when I got injured: It was getting back for the final and getting back for the Scotland camp. I did everything I could to be here and thankfully I've made it.
“The [Scotland] games have gone well. Everyone is enjoying themselves, everyone enjoys being in the camp. I think you can feel it within the boys, within the group and within the country that there’s something building here. It’s just about taking it into the next few games.”
His first international goal arrived last November when he headed the opening goal against Denmark at Hampden Park. The 2-0 victory that night sparked a raucous atmosphere inside the national stadium as Scotland finished second in Group F to enter the play-offs.
“Yeah, it was a good moment to score against Denmark and see the boys perform how we did,” said Souttar. “It wasn’t just the win, it was how we performed and how settled and how well we did as a team.
“Off the ball, on the ball, I thought we were excellent. It’s just about taking that into the next few games. It’s good to be back in, see a few boys and I’m looking forward to everyone being back in together in the next few games.”
He now intends to push for another starting place against Ukraine. The World Cup play-off semi-final, originally scheduled for March, was postponed after Russia’s invasion. That has ironically helped Souttar, who would have missed out through injury at that time.
“That’s what you want to be involved in when you play for Scotland, games like that. The atmosphere was incredible [against Denmark], If I can be involved in any capacity against Ukraine, that would be brilliant.”