Steve Clarke names the Hearts factor he'd like to see from Craig Gordon between now and May in Euro 2024 hunt

Scotland head coach Steve ClarkeScotland head coach Steve Clarke
Scotland head coach Steve Clarke | SNS Group
The Hearts goalkeeper could feature against Northern Ireland.

Steve Clarke has played it coy on the chances of Scotland goalkeeper rotation against Northern Ireland - as he hopes for more club minutes out of Hearts shot stopper Craig Gordon.

The head coach takes his side into another Euro 2024 warm-up match on Tuesday night against Northern Ireland. Debate is swirling on who will make the XI come the tournament's opening night against Germany and matches like this are a chance to stake claims.

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Hearts goalkeeping duo Zander Clark and 41-year-old Gordon are in the mix alongside Norwich City's Angus Gunn and Motherwell's Liam Kelly. Only three will go to the Euros and with Gunn solidified as number one for now, Clarke has decisions to make.

He is refusing to give anything away though when it comes to whether or not either Hearts keeper will get a go versus Northern Ireland. When asked if he is minded to rotate keepers, Clarke said: "Of course. But maybe I don’t..."

On Gordon, Clarke is hopeful for more Tynecastle minutes between now and May: "It’s hard to gauge because goalkeepers train in a certain way. If I look at my four goalkeepers in training, I can’t really see anything between them.

"They are all clean hands. I watched training this morning and I don’t think they spilled a shot on a horrible morning. It’s difficult to gauge. Obviously I hope Craig gets a few more games for Hearts leading towards the end of the season and then we can see."

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A 4-0 defeat to Netherlands on Friday was a tough loss to take, having competed well with the Amsterdam hosts for the first hour. Three goals in the final 20 minutes took some of the shine off those positives, but Clarke has managed to look past the scoreline and dig out some plus points.

He explained: “I want to be a team that can play different systems, can play different ways and be confident in whichever way we decide to go on to the pitch, knowing that hopefully the head coach has hopefully picked the right tactics and the right way to play the game.

"That is how you improve, if you can play in different ways. If you just become predictable the opposition will find a way to beat you. We have to try and be different. You saw on Friday, normally against a Pot One team we would be a little bit deeper and wait for our moments to break.

"We decided that we would go and have a press and it worked pretty well for us. If we are clinical in the right moments and get ourselves in front or get ourselves equalised the whole game changes, the whole mood on the night can change.

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"We took them on, we went toe to toe with them. As I say, it is not so much the performance or how the game went, we did things in the last 23 minutes that we didn’t do in the first 70 minutes and that is why the scoreline goes from 1-0 to 4-0. That is what we have to get better at. We can stay 2-0, 2-0, 2-0 and maybe you don’t get the 2-1.

"But if it finishes 2-0 you can maybe say, ‘It was really good but we lost the game’. That can happen. We have to be a little bit more conscious of the fact that we stay in the game. We spoke about it after Norway. It was a different game, but we stayed in the game.

"Everybody gave me a little bit of stick when I put Liam Cooper on as a substitute, but it was just so that we stayed in the game and we always had that chance going into the last 10 minutes of the game where one goal gave us a draw. We were lucky enough to get two goals and get the win. So they know how to do it, but they forgot how to do it the other night.”

Michael O'Neill's side pose a tough test for Scotland at Hampden. Clarke added: "It will be competitive, definitely competitive. Michael’s team is good. They remind me a little bit of ourselves three years ago when we were trying to develop and build a structure and a style.

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"Michael is very good at talking his team down and saying how young and inexperienced they are. I look at the results and I think they don’t get beat very often by more than one goal, they beat Denmark 2-0 at Windsor Park – we got over excited when we beat Denmark 2-0 at Hampden – they went to Romania and got a 1-1 draw with a young side in a tough place to go so we are expecting a tough game and very competitive.

"Whether you want to say it will be a British derby or whatever, I think it will be a very competitive game."

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