It was of little consolation to Zander Clark in the aftermath of Hearts’ defeat to Celtic at the weekend that he himself had enjoyed a fine personal performance. Or that his side, who performed well for large spells of the game at Celtic Park despite the eventual 3-0 reverse, have had a fine season.

When the dust settles a little and the bigger picture comes into view, though, both of those facts should provide the big keeper with some comfort. And from his own point of view, the standards he has set for himself throughout the course of that campaign look sure to be rewarded with a place in Steve Clarke’s 26-man Scotland squad for the European Championships.

So, when the sting of defeat dissipates, there should be satisfaction, both for how he has performed this term and how Hearts have proven themselves to be the third best team in the country.

“It’s pleasing, but I still went home disappointed because we lost the game,” Clark said.

“Even when you do well, at the end of the day, it’s a defeat.

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“So, the Euros and stuff is coming up and you want to try and find a good bit of form. I feel like I’ve done that, so I can only keep churning out performances at club level and see where it takes me.

“Ideally as a goalkeeper you want to be as quiet as you can possibly be, no matter what is coming up in the summer.

“But the defence have been great all season, and if they get breached then it is up to me to try and keep the scoreline at nil.

“It wasn’t to be on Saturday, but when they did get through I had a few good saves, which was pleasing with the stuff coming up.

“Ideally though you want to produce those sorts of performances and be on the side of the winning team.”

When looking at the games against Celtic this term in particular, it would appear that Hearts are capable of competing with the best that the country has to offer over 90 minutes. The next step, Clark says, is to now attempt to keep pace with them over the course of a season.

“We’ve beaten them twice and they are a top team, but our aim is to try and keep closing that gap,” he said.

“We were brave on the ball [on Saturday], and that is something you need to be when you come against either of the Old Firm, and I thought we did that well.

“For us, it’s a case of trying to dust ourselves down and moving on to the next game.

“We’ve secured third, we’ve been in two semi-finals of the cups. Our next stage has got to be trying to go one step further, getting to the finals and lifting silverware, but that’s something we’ll look at over the close season, how we can achieve those sorts of goals.

“On the whole though it has been a positive season. We had a bit of a ropey start, so to come back and finish the way we have…we had a 12-game unbeaten run, which was pretty special, so it’s been a good season.”

That impressive season would, you might think, have manager Steven Naismith right in the hunt as the end of season awards are handed out, and Clark has been a little surprised to see that he hasn’t been fancied more to pick up a personal trinket or two for his achievements in his first full season as permanent manager.

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“Listen, the manager has done brilliant since he has come in,” he said.

“When we started off results weren’t going our way and there was a lot of noise, but we believed in the manager and what he could do when the new players settled in.

“When we went on that 12-game run, we were well-drilled and we did everything that the manager had asked.

“He would probably say that he shouldn’t be up for that as people in football always do, but it’s something you’d need to ask him.”