Scotland coach watches Hearts defender John Souttar as Craig Gordon prepares to make history with cap record

Scotland coach John Carver watched Hearts defender John Souttar against Dundee United as national team management contemplate replacing the injured Grant Hanley.

By Barry Anderson
Saturday, 6th November 2021, 6:04 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th November 2021, 6:17 pm
John Souttar is in fine form for Hearts.

Souttar delivered another strong display in Hearts’ 5-2 victory at Tynecastle Park with Carver looking on from the stand. The assistant will now report back to head coach Steve Clarke as the Scotland squad prepares to gather for vital World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Denmark.

Hanley is sidelined by a groin injury and, with Kieran Tierney also nursing an ankle problem, another central defender may be needed for this week’s games.

Souttar has been in impressive form for Hearts this season having regained fitness after three ruptured Achilles tendons in three years. He holds three Scotland caps to date but has not represented his country since receiving a red card in a 2-1 defeat in Israel in October 2018.

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The Hearts manager Robbie Neilson said Souttar is ready if called upon, although he has not had any contact from the Scottish FA as yet.

“There’s been nothing from Steve yet, so I'll just need to wait and see,” said Neilson. “If John gets called up I'd be delighted for him personally because he's had a hard time in the last couple of years and in the last three months he's been outstanding for us.

“He's probably been ready for it for years, it's just with an injury can he stay on the pitch? Will he go there and start? I don't know but to be involved with it would be great for him.

“I'd prefer him to have an easy time and make sure he's ready for Motherwell [after the international break]. If he gets called up, it's a great honour for him and I'm sure he'll enjoy it.”

Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon will become the most-capped Tynecastle internationalist in history if he plays in both Scotland matches. He will break Steven Pressley’s record of 32 caps earned whilst playing for the Edinburgh club.

Gordon injured his fingers against United but Neilson said that wouldn’t keep him out. “If Craig plays in the next two Scotland games that's him the most-capped Hearts player in history, so I hope he plays in the two games.

“I'd be delighted for him. There's no chance of him not going, not even with a stookie up.”

Ben Woodburn scored his first two Hearts goals against United, with Josh Ginnelly outstanding in a centre-forward role in place of the injured Liam Boyce.

“People were wondering what we would be like and what we would do,” said Neilson. “Do we go with Armand Gnanduillet for his physicality or do we go with Ginnelly with his pace?

“We felt that playing against Charlie Mulgrew and Ryan Edwards, who are strong physically and orgainised, that pace would help and thankfully it did.

“I am delighted for Ben. He is a top player. We see that every day in training and it will be a release to get that goal. He has been putting a lot of pressure on himself to score goals and to come up here and do well.

“I think the goals were the final thing he needed to release him. I thought that after the first goal he flourished so we will see even more from him.”

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