Steven Naismith ends Lawrence Shankland debate as Hearts head coach makes stirring case for star at Euro 2024

Hearts head coach Steven NaismithHearts head coach Steven Naismith
Hearts head coach Steven Naismith | SNS Group
The Hearts striker appeared off the bench in a Scotland defeat.

Steven Naismith reckons Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland has more than displayed his Euro 2024 credentials.

The Jambos talisman featured in both warm-up matches during what was a frustrating camp for Steve Clarke's side. A good performance against Holland only merited a 4-0 defeat after a collapse in the final 20 minutes, while an off-night occurred on returning to Hampden as Northern Ireland won 1-0.

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Games with Gibraltar and Finland come next in the summer before the long-waited tournament opener with Germany. Hearts head coach Naismith knows all about Shankland's instincts through his Tynecastle work this season, as he marches towards 30 goals for the campaign.

Competing with Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes for a spot in the XI in June, Naismith says there's no debate anymore over selecting Shankland for the squad. When asked if Shankland should start against Germany, Naismith responded: "He is the guy who always gets chances. I know it first hand from him being in the team for us at Hearts.

"He will takes his chances and for me the debate was is he worth being in the Euros squad. I think he will be in the Euros squad, I think he is an asset for us. There's a lot of football to be played and the three strikers have different traits. But the most natural finisher is Shanks, for me."

One chance was missed by the forward as he came off the bench against Northern Ireland. An effort got caught in a ruck of bodies but Naismith was pleased to see the forward in the right area to score.

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Booing rang out at Hampden at full-time with Conor Bradley's strike inflicting defeat. Former Scotland international Naismith insists that the national team is still in a very good place ahead of Germany.

The Hearts head coach told BBC Scotland: "As an instinctive finisher he has done everything in terms of getting it out his body and and getting the shot off. It's on target, but it's that compact and that many bodies in the way it hits a defender and is cleared.

"The biggest thing for the squad is that's the last impression you have given Steve Clarke. From now to the summer, they have to perform because competition for places within the squad is massive. That is what the manager will lean on. Overall, we are in a much better place than we have been for many years."

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