Steven Naismith explains the 'strange' Hearts situation Zander Clark has battled through to become number one

The Hearts goalkeeper is now the number one at Tynecastle.
Zander Clark has shone for Hearts.Zander Clark has shone for Hearts.
Zander Clark has shone for Hearts.

Steven Naismith says Zander Clark deserves enormous credit for his rise to Hearts number one.

The goalkeeper initially joined the club after a spell at St Johnstone in 2022 as back-up to Craig Gordon, but the Tynecastle legend's serious leg injury opened up a chance. He has remained between the Premiership sticks ever since and is in the running to go to Euro 2024 with Scotland.

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An eye-catching reflex save from a Marley Watkins header in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock proved why the shot-stopper has remained between the posts for head coach Naismith. Having gone through an unusual journey, the goalie has left his manager delighted.

Naismith told the Edinburgh Evening News: "He is in the category for me of most consistent performers all season. That is why he is selected in the team. I think it has been a strange time for him since he signed. He probably is a number one at a lot of clubs but signs here as a number two to Craig.

"Had to be patient and had to get fit, did that. Craig has his injury and it opens the door for him. He then has to deal with that pressure from a Hearts legend being out and replacing him. Since Craig came back I think he has upped his level and I have said that consistently.

"Saturday that saves shows that he has. In this year has earned his Scotland cap, he's been really consistent for us and we are pleased with that. We are pleased for him and we have two great goalkeepers so it is competition for places. If you perform you stay in the team and that is for every player on the pitch. So we are in a good place."

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Centre-back Kye Rowles was thrown into a left-back position against Kilmarnock. Naismith also had praise for him after returning just the day before action for the Killie clash.

He added: "We have known he can do it. He's done it for us and he has done it for Australia before as well. So we know he can do it. There was a bit of Alex Cochrane being booked and their main threats are their wide players.

"They like having one versus one situations. It probably made sense to make that change but Kye's had a tough time. He was away for 10 days, only came back into the building on Friday and then you are asking him to go again Saturday. It was a big ask for him but he came on did well."

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