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Shankland says Hearts form gives him ‘good opportunity’ to be at Euros

FREE-SCORING Hearts forward Lawrence Shankland feels he is giving himself “a good opportunity” of going to this summer’s European Championships with Scotland.

The Jambos captain netted his 27th goal of the season to secure a 2-0 home win over Celtic on Sunday, with national team manager Steve Clarke and his assistant John Carver watching on from the Tynecastle stand.

Shankland was left out of the Scotland squad for the October double-header against Spain and France, and he was initially omitted for the most recent gathering in November before being given a belated call-up for the matches against Georgia and Norway after Che Adams withdrew.

Shankland did his cause no harm by stepping off the bench to score a stoppage-time equaliser in the 2-2 draw away to Georgia.

Since then, he has taken his club form to new heights by netting 22 goals in his last 23 appearances for Hearts, prompting many to suggest that he should not just be in the squad for Germany but deserves to be Scotland’s first-choice striker.

Shankland was unaware that Clarke — preparing to name his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Netherlands and Northern Ireland — was there to see him score against Celtic on Sunday, but he said: “Hopefully I impressed and put on a good performance, and we got a victory as well.

“All you can do is play for your club and play at the level you are playing at, do as well as you can.

“At this moment in time I feel like I am doing pretty well. Leading the line for Hearts, scoring goals and being a leader as well. I am giving myself a good opportunity.”

Shankland missed training in the days leading up to the Celtic game after struggling with a muscle strain. However, the forward is adamant the issue is nothing to worry about ahead of next Monday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final away to Morton.

“There was obviously a bit of a chat back and forth between the sports scientists and me but thankfully they took my word that I was alright, and I was,” said Shankland.

“I felt confident going into the game, it was just a wee niggle. I probably felt worse going into the Hibs game, if I’m honest.

“I felt good (against Celtic) and I think that probably showed in my performance.

“It’s good that we’ve got a chance to recover and a few days to tone down a bit before we start building up to the Morton game, so it (the midweek break) has probably come at a good time for me. But I’m all good.”

Another Scotland squad man impressed in front of the watching Clarke, with goalkeeper Zander Clark blocking an early penalty from Adam Idah and then making some impressive second-half saves.

Clark made his Scotland debut last autumn and is battling to hang on to his place at both club and international level, with 41-year-old Hearts and Scotland keeper Craig Gordon having returned to contention in December following a year out with a double leg-break.

“I think Zander’s been brilliant from the minute he’s come into the team,” said Shankland.

“There was the whole thing with Craigy coming back from injury. That brings an added pressure as Craigy is such a good goalkeeper.

“But for me Zander’s not doing anything to lose his place. He’s been brilliant for us, really big saves in big moments.

“He’s a top goalie and he shows that. He’s had the chance to play at international level and that’s been good for him.”

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