BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Sam Nicholson insists the number of Hearts players called up by Scotland is a measure of the club’s success this season.
Nicholson is joined by Tynecastle team-mates Jack Hamilton, Jordan McGhee, John Souttar and Billy King in the under-21 squad to face France and Northern Ireland later this month.
Callum Paterson would also have been included, if not in Gordon Strachan’s full Scotland selections, had he not been ruled out for a month with torn shoulder ligaments.
Nicholson will be seeking his fifth under-21 cap in the March 24 clash with France in Angers and believes providing so many players for the international stage reflects well on Hearts as they push Aberdeen and Celtic at the top of the Premiership.
He said: “I’m delighted to be called up for the 21s. It’s massive to represent your country.
“There are a lot of (Hearts) boys that have represented Scotland at under-21s and every time we get called up we’re all buzzing for each other.
“It’s good, it’s obviously a target; it’s good for yourself, your family and it’s good for the club that a lot of boys are being called up.”
The young Scots are up against it in their bid to progress from their qualifying group after winning just one of their opening four matches.
Currently fourth, six points adrift of leaders Iceland, Ricky Sbragia’s side lost 2-1 at home to France at Pittodrie back in October and have subsequently drawn against both Iceland and Ukraine on home soil.
But Nicholson is not giving up hope they can spring a surprise against the top-quality French.
The 21-year-old added: “Last time we played France, we noticed they have a lot of massive players.
“There was a player (Adrien Rabiot of PSG) that played last week in the Champions League, for example. That shows you the standard.
“I thought we did well against them, although they had a lot of possession.
“They won 2-1 but we worked well against them and hopefully we can carry that on to the next game.”