Heart of Midlothian head coach Steven Naismith reckons Lawrence Shankland has enhanced his position in the Scotland national team. 

Shankland, 28, has scored 27 times from 39 club appearances this season. And he was rewarded with an international call-up for the March friendly double-header against The Netherlands and Northern Ireland. 

The Hearts captain started the 4-0 away defeat in Amsterdam before playing the final 12 minutes of a 1-0 home loss at Hampden a few days later.

Despite Scotland failing to find the back of the net during those two fixtures, Naismith believes that experience will have benefitted Shankland and backed the striker to be a success for Steve Clarke's side.

He said: "For me he has again enhanced his position within the national team. I think this whole season has been a whole 'should he be in the squad? or shouldn't he be in the squad?'. To then 'should he make the Euros squad? or should he not?'.

"At each step he's answered those questions. The biggest question mark over Lawrence was can he play as a lone striker, hold the play up, link the play, because people didn't think he could do it.

"But he's shown in the long game he can, and he's good at it and he's also a goal threat. 

"In the two games he's managed to get in a position where he's getting two chances in each game which is the safest part of his game. He will score goals, he will score goals for us, he will score goals at international level. So, I think he's enhanced his position within the squad." 

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Up next for Hearts is fourth-placed Kilmarnock - a fixture Naismith is relishing. 

He knows it will be tough but the Jam Tarts boss believes his side aren't third in the Scottish Premiership table for nothing and have shown they boast the quality to increase their 11 point advantage over Killie by securing all three points at Tynecastle on Saturday. 

Asked what Hearts expect from the visitors, Naismith replied: “They’ve done really well this season. They have a way of playing. They have wide players that are dangerous and a threat up front.

“For me, these are the best games. When you play against the team that are around you as they give you a defined picture of where you’re at and what you still need to do. The next two games arguably do that as they’re against the two teams that are directly below us.

“They’re tough games, but we’ve not got to third place by fearing teams. We’ve went into every game with a real belief that we can win these games and that’s what has brought the consistency.

“It will be no different tomorrow. It’s our official Big Hearts Day, so us going out there and getting a good win would sign off the day very well.”