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Gordon recalled as Clarke seeks ‘tough’ Scotland choices


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Scotland manager Steve Clarke wants “tough selections to make” in his squad for Euro 2024 after recalling 41-year-old goalkeeper Craig Gordon for this month’s friendlies against the Netherlands and Northern Ireland.

Gordon, who won the last of his 74 caps in November 2022, has played three times – in the Scottish Cup – since a year out with a double leg break.

He joins Hearts team-mate Zander Clark, established first choice Angus Gunn and Liam Kelly in the squad, but only three keepers will go to the finals.

“That’s the situation. It’s going to be an interesting decision,” said Clarke, who took in Gordon’s performance and first clean sheet of the season in Hearts’ 1-0 cup win over Greenock Morton on Monday.

“It gives us a chance to look at Craig up close. Three competitive games and, without being disrespectful to the opposition that Hearts have played in the cup already, probably not games where Craig was overworked. Nice to see back him on the pitch.

“The key thing is to make sure that come the start of May, I’ve got tough selections to make – everybody fit and available.

“I would imagine I’ll look at a number of players over the two games but I don’t want to be too distracted with thinking about giving people chances to play.”

Clarke added that the “core squad” from Scotland’s successful qualification campaign “deserve the chance to go to the Euros”.

Celtic captain and midfielder Callum McGregor misses out on the friendly double-header with an Achilles problem but his club-mates, full-backs Anthony Ralston and Greg Taylor, make the 25-man selection, which is two players larger than permitted at the Euros.

Brentford full-back Aaron Hickey remains absent through injury and Sassuolo’s Josh Doig, who made Clarke’s last squad, has been called up by Scotland Under-21s to face Kazakhstan this month.

The Dutch host Clarke’s Scots in Amsterdam on 22 March before Northern Ireland visit Hampden four days later, with both games kicking off at 19:45 GMT. Prior to the Euro 2024 finals, Scotland will complete their warm-up games against Gibraltar and Finland in early June.

Clarke’s team open the finals against hosts Germany on 14 June before further group games with Switzerland and Hungary.

Defenders Grant Hanley, Andy Robertson, John Souttar and Kieran Tierney return but Ryan Jack misses out, with the midfielder sitting out recent Rangers games amid injury issues.

“I’m not going to be taking all those centre-backs [to Germany],” Clarke said of the seven central defenders he has selected.

Millwall forward Kevin Nisbet, who scored the last time Scotland played the Dutch in a 2-2 draw, is not in the squad, having not played since January. Luton attacker Jacob Brown, who has been a regular in Clarke’s recent selections, also does not feature due to injury.

Clarke has named three forwards – Southampton’s Che Adams, Queens Park Rangers’ Lyndon Dykes and Hearts’ Scottish Premiership top scorer Lawrence Shankland.

“Up here you talk a lot about Lawrence because he’s scoring every week,” added Clarke. “He’s scoring week in, week out. Any time you watch Hearts play, Lawrence is a key player for them.

“He’s done very well, he deserves his place in the squad this time but I’ve got two other strikers there that have done OK for Scotland too.”

Scotland squad

Goalkeepers: Zander Clark, Craig Gordon (both Hearts), Angus Gunn (Norwich), Liam Kelly (Motherwell)

Defenders: Liam Cooper (Leeds), Grant Hanley (Norwich), Jack Hendry (Al-Ettifaq), Scott McKenna (Copenhagen), Nathan Patterson (Everton), Ryan Porteous (Watford), Anthony Ralston (Celtic), Andy Robertson (Liverpool), John Souttar (Rangers), Greg Taylor (Celtic), Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad)

Midfielders: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), Ryan Christie (Bournemouth), Lewis Ferguson (Bologna), Billy Gilmour (Brighton), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Kenny McLean (Norwich), Scott McTominay (Manchester United)

Forwards: Che Adams (Southampton), Lyndon Dykes (QPR), Lawrence Shankland (Hearts)

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