Hearts boss insists key player deserves international recall

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Hearts manager Robbie Neilson insists goalkeeper Craig Gordon has done more than enough to earn a Scotland recall.

The 37-year-old delivered an outstanding man of the match display in Saturday’s 2-1 extra-time Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Hibs.

A remarkable reflex save to deny Kevin Nisbet was the highlight of the former Celtic and Sunderland shot-stopper’s performance.

Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon | Hearts news
Gordon shone against Hibs

And Neilson insists his former team-mate has to be in Steve Clarke’s thoughts as the national team manager prepares to name his squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 play-off final against Serbia and Nations League clashes with Slovakia and Israel

Neilson, who brought Gordon back to the club from Celtic during the summer, said: “He is desperate to get back into the Scotland squad and I think he has certainly given Steve a few questions to ask with his performances in the last few games. 

“In my opinion there is nobody better out there than Craig.

“I don’t even blink when he does it now. 

“When the ball goes into the box I don’t expect it to find the net with the way he is playing, he is phenomenal.

“His reaction saves are unbelievable and we see it everyday in training. 

“His presence at the back in how he talks to the team and organises, if I was a centre half playing he is the best guy in the world to have behind you because he will talk to you, organise, and you know he is going to be secure.”

Gordon, who has not featured for Scotland since earning his 54th cap in October 2018 in a defeat to Portugal, was relieved to see Nisbet’s second half penalty come back off the post at 1-1.

However, Neilson reckons the veteran goalkeeper’s presence was a huge factor in the Hibs striker failing to convert from 12 yards.

He added: “If anyone is going to save a penalty or put someone off, it’s going to be him. 

“Although he didn’t save it, he influences the kicker because he is such a personality, such a size that you have to go wide of him. 

“You go wide of him and you run the risk of hitting the post.”

Neilson, meanwhile, has now turned his attention to Saturday’s Championship visit of Inverness as Hearts attempt to make it three wins out of three in the league ahead of next Tuesday’s Betfred Cup clash against East Fife.

He added: “We’ve got Inverness on Saturday and then East Fife so it is back down to earth and hopefully we can get back winning three points again.”

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