SCOTLAND manager Steve Clarke has stressed that Craig Gordon will boost his chances of being involved in the Euro 2024 finals if he reclaims his place with Heart of Midlothian – but admitted he could still take the vastly-experienced goalkeeper to Germany if he isn’t playing regularly.

Gordon performed well and kept a clean sheet as the Tynecastle club defeated Greenock Morton in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup quarter-final at Cappielow on Monday night as Clarke looked on from the stands.

However, that was only the third competitive game which the 74-times capped 41-year-old, who suffered a double leg break on Christmas Eve in 2022, had featured in during the 2023/24 campaign.

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The former Celtic and Sunderland man has been unable to displace Zander Clark, who started for his country in the qualifiers against Georgia and Norway back in November in the absence of Angus Gunn, at Hearts since returning to full fitness.

Clarke, who yesterday named Clark, Gordon, Gunn of Norwich City and Liam Kelly of Motherwell in his 25 man squad for the friendlies against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland this month, is heartened to see Gordon back playing football again.

The 60-year-old will assess the player at close quarters in the forthcoming international break and is sure to hand him some game time in the Johan Cruyff Arena on Friday week or at Hampden the following Tuesday.

The Herald: He stated that Gordon, who has never played at a major tournament finals during his career, will increase his prospects of travelling to the Euros in June if he is playing on a regular basis for Hearts, but refused to rule out selecting him if he is not.

“It's a chance for me to see Craig working up close and working with the other goalkeepers in the group,” he said. “He has played three games since coming back, but, without being disrespectful to the opposition, it's Spartans, Airdrie and Morton.

“Craig hasn't been overworked in the games he has played in so it will be nice for the goalkeeper coach, Chris Woods, and myself to see him up close and personal. It's nice to have Angus back in the group as well."

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Asked if he would be prepared to take Gordon to the Euros on the evidence of what he sees in the next fortnight if he fails to dislodge Clark at Hearts, Clarke said:  "I can always make the decision.

“That will come down to me as to whether I think Craig is right or not right to go. What I would say is, don't discount Zander, as he is keeping him out the Hearts team. That tells you how good Zander has been to keep a keeper of Craig's stature out the team. It will be an interesting choice."

Asked if Gordon needs to be playing for Hearts to go to Euro 2024, Clarke said: "It's possible. It would probably be a bit easier for selection if he was Hearts No 1. Obviously I have to take a lot of different factors into consideration. I wouldn't say if he only plays two more cup games, I wouldn't select him.

“Mentally and physically he is in great shape. He is a strong-willed person, very strong mentally. To come back from such a significant injury at that stage in his career shows that. He's done great to be back involved. It is nice to see him on the pitch after such a horrendous injury. It is nice to see him back, stripped and looking good. Let's see how it goes.

"His experience is there to be seen. His performances for me as the head coach would have some bearing on it. But you have to be fit and well, pretty much like goalkeepers who are playing all the time as they get into a rhythm.”

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Clarke continued: "Three of the four goalkeepers I have selected for these games will go. There's every chance you get a goalkeeping injury so it's nice to have the four.

“I am saying of the four that three will go to the Euros. But maybe two get injured. Then I need to find another goalkeeper to come in. Young Robby McCrorie at Rangers has been my go-to for bringing in if I need an extra goalkeeper. Those are the five that I am thinking of and three will go to the Euros.

“It's going to be a difficult decision to narrow that four, if you include Robby McCrorie that five, to that three that we will take in the summer."