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Paul Gallacher backing Hearts duo Zander Clark and Craig Gordon for Euro 2024

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 19 Mar 2024

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Paul Gallacher revealed how Zander Clark and Craig Gordon are pushing each other to new heights as he backed the two Hearts goalkeepers to go to Euro 2024 with Scotland.

Clark and Gordon are both currently with Steve Clarke’s squad preparing for friendlies against Netherlands and Northern Ireland, alongside fellow goalkeepers Angus Gunn of Norwich and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly.

The Scotland boss has said that – barring injury – three of those four will go to the Euros, and Hearts goalkeeping coach Gallacher would be “immensely proud” if he is waving both of his main men off to Germany this summer.

“They’ve both worked ever so hard to get to where they are, both for different reasons,” the former Scotland goalkeeper told the PA news agency.

“It’s a privilege to work with the two of them and I truly hope they both go to the Euros.”

Gordon, 41, was the undisputed number one for both Scotland and Hearts prior to sustaining a career-threatening double leg break 15 months ago.

Clark took the gloves at Tynecastle after Gordon’s injury and has held on to them since the veteran returned to contention in December.

The 31-year-old former St Johnstone keeper has kept 14 clean sheets in 30 league matches this term and also won his first three Scotland caps in the first half of the season.

Gallacher has been impressed with how both men have dealt with their respective challenges over the past year and a bit.

“Craig’s back, he’s absolutely back,” said the goalie coach. “You see him make saves every day in training and you just go ‘yep, that’s him back’.

“He’s got himself into a fantastic condition, he’s back to where he was before the injury. He’s top-notch, he’s world class at times, he really is.

“Obviously he’s not getting any younger but he keeps on pushing, and I think that’s pushing Zander on as well. You can see the level Zander’s hit. From where he was to where he is now is night and day.

“He was a good goalkeeper when he first came to the club but he has kicked on under severe pressure.

“Not a lot of folk could cope with that pressure of coming in to replace Craig Gordon, a Hearts legend, but he’s stood up and done it, which is no easy feat. That cannot be underestimated.

“There has been pressure on both of them but they’ve dealt with it brilliantly.”

Gunn appears to have become Scotland’s first-choice keeper since Gordon’s injury, but Gallacher is adamant both Hearts goalies would be perfectly equipped mentally and physically to play against Group A opponents Germany, Hungary or Switzerland in June if required.

“I know from working closely with them how the two of them can handle occasions,” said Gallacher, who won eight Scotland caps between 2002 and 2004.

“Zander, the way he’s playing, could handle it no problem at all. And Craig, with the number of caps he’s got (74), could be pitched in no problem at all.

“I know it might come across as biased but I’d have no qualms at all about either of them being in that starting line-up.”

Gallacher laughed off any notion that their mutual determination to play for club and country might have had a detrimental effect on the relationship between Gordon and Clark, who has been restricted to just three Scottish Cup outings since his rival’s return.

“They’re brilliant, honestly, there is no animosity whatsoever,” he said. “They’re great guys, brilliant to be around.

“But when they’re on that pitch, they push each other. They’re all about trying to improve and striving to be the number one for this football club.

“We are truly blessed to have two guys of that calibre battling for the number one jersey at Hearts.”

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