Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is confident Jambos defender John Souttar is close to forcing his way back into the Scotland set-up after a string of impressive performances for the Tynecastle side – although the Hearts gaffer admits he’s happy if the defender only has to focus on his role in Gorgie.

Souttar had been touted for a recall to the Scotland squad for the crunch games with Moldova and Denmark later this month but missed out when Steve Clarke named his squad earlier this week for the World Cup qualifiers.

john souttar Scotland v Albania - UEFA Nations League C

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

While the Hearts boss thinks Souttar isn’t far from Clarke’s plans – he concedes the Jambos star will have to “bide his time” for a call-up with the Scotland boss generally remaining loyal to the players he’s selected so far.

“I’m sure he’s round about selection,” said Neilson.

“But when you look at the players and consistency Scotland have got in those positions, he’s probably going to have to bide his time.

“I haven’t actually spoken to Steve, who will very much make his own decisions. But, he is very loyal to the boys that he’s got in there, he’s always been like that, he’s built his career coaching like that, so John just needs to wait.

“He’s a very good player, but he has to do it, week in, week out, for 90 minutes. He’s been doing that so far this season, but from my perspective I’d rather he just concentrates on Hearts.”


After returning from injury, Souttar has been fantastic from Hearts this season and Neilson hopes the defender is over the worst of the problems which have disrupted his career at various points.

The Tynecastle boss is confident there’s more to come from the ex-Dundee United stopper as he continues to build his fitness and pushing for a place in the Scotland squad.

“I think there’s more [to come],” added Neilson. “I think his fitness levels can keep going. His general fitness can get better the more games he plays and there is that confidence that he has in himself as well, so I think there’s still quite a lot of improvement in him.

“Being here gives him the best opportunity to be in the Scotland squad. We’re hopefully playing at the top end of the league, competing at the highest level and hopefully that’ll give him a platform.”

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