STEVEN Naismith has told Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland that his 32 goal haul in the 2023/24 campaign will not guarantee him a start for Scotland at Euro 2024 next month.

Shankland took his tally for the capital club this season to 31 when he netted the opener in their 3-3 draw with Rangers in a cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle yesterday.

The PFA Scotland and SFWA Player of the Year, who scored a last minute equaliser when his country played Georgia in a qualifier in November, is hoping his club form this term will have impressed national team manager Steve Clarke.

But Naismith, who won 51 international caps during his own playing career, has stressed the striker will have to maintain his performance levels when Scotland meet up for their pre-tournament friendlies against Gibraltar and Finland.

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Asked if Shankland’s goal return this term made him the front runner to play in the Group A matches against hosts Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, he said: "I'm not sure that will play a full part because the three weeks in the training camp is probably the biggest part.

“Going into it, he can't be in better form. He has answered a lot of questions in the last internationals. But the next three weeks are important. The manager sets eyes on all the players on the training pitch each day.

The Herald: Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland celebrates scoring against Rangers at Tynecastle today"Shanks is in brilliant form, full of confidence. At the start of the season, the question was, 'Does he deserve to be in the squad or not?' Now it's, 'Does he deserve to start?' Credit to him for getting himself in that position.”

Naismith admitted he was satisfied with Hearts performance in their final Premiership fixture against Rangers and over the season as a whole.

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“When you have got a 31 goal scorer in the squad it is going to be hard to dislodge him,” he said. “But overall, every player in this squad has contributed.

“There have been tough times for certain individuals, but they have always given it their all and that is why we have had a successful season. They have shown that they are all up for the fight.

“For your first season as a manager, it’s really good. We are comfortable in third and we got to two cup semi-finals. But it is probably more about the progression of the team. From the first game of the season until now we are a much, much better team.

“The boys have grown and developed, and some of the older boys have taken on responsibility and have started to lead the group. It has been like that all the way through. We have had a calmness in our play and about us as a squad – and that’s why we have consistently been good.”