Robbie Neilson wants Hearts keeper Craig Gordon to be Scotland No.1 for the Euros as he makes player of the year tip
While David Marshall remains Scotland’s first-choice goalkeeper, the Hearts manager Robbie Neilson is desperate to see Craig Gordon installed as No.1 for the European Championship.
Gordon recorded his seventh straight shutout as Hearts beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-0 on Saturday and is enjoying a career renaissance since returning to Tynecastle Park.
He was recalled by Scotland coach Steve Clarke last November and played in the Nations League tie against Slovakia. He also kept goal in the 4-0 win against San Marino in last month’s World Cup qualifier.
However, Derby County’s Marshall, 36, has been first-choice for the national team all season. Gordon, 38, is competing intensely against his close friend to become Clarke's goalkeeper for the Euros in June and Neilson is eager for him to succeed.
“I’m really hopeful his season is not finished yet because I am desperate for him to get in that team for the Euros,” said the Hearts manager. “I know Marshall has that No.1 jersey at the moment but Craig has been outstanding.
“He has been absolutely phenomenal for us from day one. Honestly, what a performance he’s put in. I would expect him probably to get player of the year from just about everyone in the Championship because some of the saves have been outstanding.”
Gordon refused time off last month to help Hearts after defeats against Brora Rangers and Queen of the South whilst he was on Scotland duty. The Edinburgh club haven’t lost a goal since he returned.
“It’s not just his leadership on the park,” explained Neilson. “We went through a tricky period and Craig had been away on international duty. I spoke to him about taking a couple of days off when he came back and, because we were going through that tricky period, he said: ‘No, I’ll come in because the boys need me.’
“He comes back in and we start winning so it shows he’s not just leading the team on the pitch. He is leading it in the dressing room.
“People set standards but Craig sets it in different ways from other people. He sets it by being Craig Gordon and the things he does on the training pitch, the way he carries himself on the pitch. I hope he’s got another three, four, five, six years in him.”