SPL

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

By Sports Desk March 04, 2024

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.”

Related items

  • Ten Hag backs Rashford to use England omission as 'fuel' in FA Cup final Ten Hag backs Rashford to use England omission as 'fuel' in FA Cup final

    Erik ten Hag urged a "highly motivated" Marcus Rashford to use his England disappointment as "fuel" ahead of this weekend's FA Cup final.

    Rashford was omitted from Gareth Southgate's provisional 33-man squad for the upcoming European Championship this week, following a disappointing season in which he has scored just eight goals.

    The forward struck 30 times during the 2022-23 campaign, but has struggled to build on that momentum this term.

    Rashford will hope to feature at Wembley as United face rivals Manchester City in a repeat of last year's final, needing to win to ensure they do not miss out on European football for the first time in 10 years.

    And Ten Hag is backing the 26-year-old to respond to his setback in a positive manner.

    "He looks good," the United head coach said. "A career has ups and downs, and a down can also give you fuel and that is what I see in training.

    "So, he will be highly motivated. He is very talented and already has a big career, and I am sure he will get over this and make even more goals."

    One of Rashford's finer moments of the season came against City when he opened the scoring with a stunning 25-yard strike in a 3-1 defeat at the Etihad in March.

    Two months on - and at the conclusion of a difficult season blighted by injuries to several key players - Ten Hag believes United are in a stronger position to compete with their rivals.

    "At the Etihad, we were very good in the game for 70 minutes, and had opportunities to go ahead," the Dutchman added. 

    "They could substitute, but we didn't have the players on the bench. That is a big difference. On Saturday, we will have a bench and will have a much stronger side."

  • 'I don't want to think about Guardiola leaving City', Foden admits 'I don't want to think about Guardiola leaving City', Foden admits

    Phil Foden wants to continue enjoying working with Pep Guardiola, and will not "think too much" about the Spaniard potentially leaving Manchester City.

    Foden was named Premier League Player of the Year after helping City land a record-breaking fourth successive top-flight title, scoring two goals in their crucial victory over West Ham on the final day.

    Guardiola, whose contract is set to expire at the end of next season, hinted he may depart the Etihad Stadium, suggesting he was closer to leaving the club than staying.

    Foden has gone from strength to strength since coming through the City ranks and being handed his debut by the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss during the 2017-18 season.

    And the England international is focused on continuing to embrace making further strides with the 53-year-old at the helm.

    "I've not known any other thing apart from him," Foden told BBC Sport. "So, it'll be strange when he does go. I don't want to think too much about it. I want to enjoy the things we're doing now with him.

    "I feel like there's other managers out there who complicate it a little bit. The best advice he gave me this season was ‘don't try and be Phil Foden in every action’, and I feel like that advice really went a long way.

    "I believed in what the manager was saying. I believed in the process. When I wasn't playing, I knew there were better players in front of me. And I knew the more I grew up and the longer time that went, there'd be an opportunity for me."

    Foden was speaking ahead of the FA Cup final, in which City will face rivals Manchester United at Wembley for the second year running.

    The Citizens, who prevailed 2-1 12 months ago, are aiming to become the first English side to win the Premier League and FA Cup in successive seasons.

    "Last year, United didn't make it easy for us," Foden continued. "When it’s a derby, on your day, anyone can win, so it's something we have to look forward to and be at our best if we're going to win."

  • Milan confirm Pioli's departure Milan confirm Pioli's departure

    Milan have confirmed the departure of head coach Stefano Pioli.

    The Rossoneri won the Serie A title under Pioli's guidance in the 2021-22 season.

    While they could not defend their title last term, they have secured a second-placed finish with one more Serie A match remaining of this campaign, though they are 19 points adrift of champions Inter.

    And Saturday's match against Salernitana will be Pioli's final game in charge, ending a four-and-a-half-year stint, with the Italian having taken over in October 2019.

    A club statement read: "Milan extends heartfelt thanks to Stefano Pioli and his entire staff for leading the first team over the past five years, securing an unforgettable league title and re-establishing Milan's consistent presence in the top European competition.

    "Stefano's professionalism and human touch have significantly contributed to the growth of the squad, embodying the club's core values from day one. 

    "Pioli expresses his gratitude to Milan for the opportunity to be part of the history of this glorious club. He is deeply thankful to the ownership, management, team, staff, and everyone at Milanello and Casa Milan for their support and outstanding commitment.

    "He also extends a special thanks to the many fans who have passionately supported Milan over the years, demonstrating unwavering dedication."

    Pioli has overseen 182 Serie A games in charge of Milan, winning 108 (59.3 per cent) of those, while averaging an impressive two points per game.

    Milan's title in 2022 was their first Scudetto triumph in 11 years.

    Lille boss Paulo Fonseca is the favourite to succeed Pioli at San Siro.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.