SCOTLAND assistant John Carver has admitted Plymouth Argyle striker Ryan Hardie has caught manager Steve Clarke’s attention this season – but indicated the ex-Rangers kid is unlikely to be called up by his country before the Euro 2024 finals.

Hardie has scored 12 goals for the Home Park club in the English Championship this season – more than current national squad members Che Adams of Southampton and Lyndon Dykes of Queens Park Rangers – and his manager Ian Foster revealed last week the SFA had requested his performance data.

Carver, who helped put Adams, Dykes and Lawrence Shankland of Hearts through their paces in training at Lesser Hampden yesterday ahead of the friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday night, confessed the 27-year-old had impressed with his play up front for The Pilgrims this term.  

However, he is looking forward to seeing how Lawrence Shankland, the Hearts captain who has been on target on 28 times for club and country in the 2023/24 campaign, performs in attack during this international break and does not anticipate any uncapped players getting called up before Euro 2024.

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“We have had a few people looking at that situation (Hardie) along with many others,” he said. “I think it is important you never stop looking and searching. That’s how it should be.

“If people think they are comfortable getting a place in the squad then they become relaxed. So we want to just make sure that there’s a competitive edge at that top end of the field. And we have got that and we are going to get that.

“Yeah, we have been to see him and we have watched his performances. You have to, of course you do. We will never stop looking.

The Herald: “The young boy (Tommy) Conway at Bristol is another one we have been looking at as well. He scored a great goal against West Ham in the FA Cup. But he is doing really well with the under-21s and they have got a big game coming up. It is good for the future. He is another youngster coming through.

“But I think we are almost settled on what we are going to take away. I would be very surprised if somebody comes out from nowhere. We are more or less settled.”

Shankland, who scored a late equaliser for Scotland in their Euro 2024 qualifier against Georgia in Tbilisi in November, was named in Clarke’s squad for the Netherlands and Northern Ireland friendlies after Jacob Brown of Luton Town got an injury. 

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“Shanks has got a great opportunity,” said Carver. “He has come from nowhere, basically, within the group. He is like the latest addition. He has always been there hanging around, but it has always been Dyksey and Che.

“But because of how well he has been doing in the league it might put a bit of pressure on the other two and it might make them perform. They will have to perform to their best and play better.

“I have seen him quite a bit. I have spent a lot of time up here. The one thing about him is he is a goalscorer. He is not going to work the channels or go and press people. He comes alive when the ball comes in the box.

“That could be a huge asset because with the players we have if you have someone who likes to score goals then that’s how you win games, especially tight games like we will have in the Euros.”

He added: "It is a great opportunity for him. I have seen how competitive the four goalkeepers are. We know we can only take three goalkeepers on the plane. I have seen a little bit with the strikers now because there are three strikers there vying for that position.

“We haven’t scored too many goals recently, we have conceded quite a few, but not scored too many. Shansky might be thinking, ‘I’ve got an opportunity here’. I am sure he will get that opportunity over the two games.

“Jacob being out has opened a door for him. That’s how it works. That is how (Ryan) Porteous got in, because of the injuries we had before we played Ukraine.

“It is an opportunity for him for sure. With the dynamic of the team and the way the team play now, we need someone who is going to score goals.”

The Herald: