Craig Gordon is set to complete another remarkable Scotland comeback when the Hearts goalkeeper is named in Steve Clarke’s squad for next month’s crucial triple-header.
The 37-year-old was the Jambos’ Hampden hero on Saturday as he pulled off two stunning saves against Edinburgh rivals Hibernian to send Robbie Neilson’s men into next month’s Scottish Cup final.
Gordon’s reward is set to be a recall to the national team for the Euro 2020 play-off final against Serbia in Belgrade on November 12 and the Nations League clashes with Slovakia and Israel that follow.
The former Celtic and Sunderland ‘keeper made the last of his 54 Scotland appearances in a 3-1 friendly defeat against Portugal in 2018.
But his inclusion – which will be announced by Clarke when he holds a 2pm press conference at Hampden on Tuesday – is the result of a return to form as he now looks to challenge David Marshall for a place in the starting XI.
Speaking after his man-of-the-match display in Saturday’s extra-time triumph over Hibs helped tee up a clash with former club Celtic on December 20, he said: “I’d love to be in the Scotland squad for Serbia. I came away to try and play games and give myself the opportunity to be in there.
“I’ve been playing well so I’m happy and confident in my own performances. That’s all I can do.
“Beyond that it’s up to the manager to make a decision. The team has been doing really well so I’ll respect whatever that decision is.”
Gordon endured a frustrating final year at Celtic Park as injury and the form of Fraser Forster limited him to just six appearances before the 2019/20 season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the veteran shot-stopper has quickly proved he still has plenty to offer Hearts since returning to Tynecastle over the summer.
He made a stunning reaction save to keep out Kevin Nisbet’s close-range header during the first half at Hampden before denying Hibs again as he prevented Christian Doidge’s over head kick from sending the match to a penalty shoot-out.
This is not the first time Gordon has been forced to battle his way back into contention for the national side.
It appeared his international career was over as a combination of arm and knee injuries robbed him of two years of action while at Sunderland and threatened to force him into early retirement.
But after being given the chance to prove his fitness by then Celtic boss Ronny Deila in the summer of 2014, he was soon back in the national team fold and ended a four-year absence from the Scotland side when he came off the bench to face England in a friendly later that year.
Gordon will now have his sights set on snatching Marshall’s starting slot ahead of the trip to Belgrade, where Clarke’s team will aim to finally end the country’s 22-year wait to reach a major finals.
The Scots’ final Nations League fixtures could also have a major bearing on their 2022 World Cup hopes.
Scotland currently top League B2 and need just one more win to all-but guarantee themselves the insurance policy of a play-off slot for the tournament in Qatar.
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