'I believe in myself': Hearts' Zander Clark ready to answer Scotland call with 'clean slate' for goalkeepers

Zander Clark walked into the Tynecastle press room clutching a bottle of bubbly after Hearts’ defeat by Celtic in the Scottish Cup. The result gave the Jambos nothing to celebrate, but the scoreline could have been much worse had the goalkeeper not made a number of key saves. Unsurprisingly, he was voted the club’s man of the match.
Zander Clark has been in excellent form for Hearts since coming into the team.Zander Clark has been in excellent form for Hearts since coming into the team.
Zander Clark has been in excellent form for Hearts since coming into the team.

Clark is a man in fine form right now. Since replacing Craig Gordon as Hearts’ No 1 following the veteran stopper’s horrific double-leg break at Tannadice on Christmas Eve, there have been nothing but plaudits for the 30-year-old ex-St Johnstone player. Many questions were asked about Clark’s ability to deputise for Gordon at club level but they have all been answered. Now it’s the turn of Scotland, with their usual man between the sticks – Gordon has played every minute of Scotland’s past 16 internationals – on the sidelines. It appears that Norwich City’s Angus Gunn, a former England Under-21 player, will be called up after switching nationalities but the uncapped Clark must also be in the reckoning for the gloves when Scotland take on Cyprus and Spain later this month.

"I feel I've been playing well since I've come into the team,” said Clark. “It always helps when the team is doing well but when I've been called upon, I feel I've done well too. Listen, it was always my aim to try and get back into the Scotland squad. I hadn't played enough football to feature in them previously and when I joined the club I knew it was going to be a difficult task for me. My aim was to try and get a couple of games here and there and get match sharpness, play my way back into it. It's turned out that I've played a heck of a lot more football than anticipated. If I can get back into squads, that will be great for me. It's certainly something I wanted to do when I joined the club and if you get in the squad then it is a clean slate to go and show the manager that you are capable of being the starter.

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"I believe in myself. I've played in high-profile games and that would be a massive moment, but I need to make sure that I am in the squad first before I start talking about that. If I can get in there, it's a clean slate for whoever is selected to try and get that starting place. I think Craigy, Greegsy and big Marshall have played nearly every game for Scotland for the last 25 years or something, so it's going to be a clean slate. If in the squad, it's an opportunity to show the manager you are ready."

Clark is eyeing a recall to the Scotland squad.Clark is eyeing a recall to the Scotland squad.
Clark is eyeing a recall to the Scotland squad.

Clark will discover on Tuesday if he is selected by manager Steve Clarke for the Euro 2024 qualifiers. Before they come along though, Hearts have one more Premiership match before the international break, away at Aberdeen. Victory is imperative if they are looking to hold on to third spot. “That's where our focus turns to now,” added Clark. “We'll dissect the Celtic game and look at where we could have been better, but the focus is the league – we are sitting in third and we want to make sure we stay there."