John Souttar has expressed his delight after recovering from injury in time to play in the Scottish Cup final and then earn himself a place in the Scotland squad for next week’s World Cup play-off against Ukraine.
The 25-year-old centre-back’s season looked like it might be over when he suffered an ankle injury while playing for Hearts at the start of March.
However, Souttar battled back and got himself back into the team as a late substitute in the final league game of the season at home to Rangers before producing a strong display in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final defeat by the Ibrox side, whom he has already agreed to join next season.
Having proven his fitness with his Hampden performance, the defender has been recalled to the Scotland fold for next month’s World Cup play-offs and Nations League games.
“To get back playing at the weekend, obviously the result was disappointing but for myself it was good timing to allow me to get back in the Scotland squad as well,” Souttar said in an interview with the Scottish Football Association.
“I think the important thing when I got injured was getting back for the final and getting back for the Scotland camp. I did everything I could to be here and thankfully I’ve made it.
“It’s brilliant to be back in with the boys and I’m looking forward to the games.”
Souttar’s recall after injury is one of the most notable aspects of a 28-man squad which features no new faces. The defender believes the sense of continuity within the group is good in terms of maintaining momentum, with Scotland currently on an eight-game unbeaten run.
“There is quality throughout the squad but there are good people as well,” said Souttar.
“People have been here consistently, we’ve named a similar squad and you saw the quality from the last games. We’ve just got to keep it going.
“Everyone is enjoying themselves, everyone enjoys being in the camp. I think you can feel it within the boys, within the group and within the country that there’s something building here. It’s just about taking it into the next few games.”
Souttar has not played for Scotland since netting his first international goal in the 2-0 win over Denmark in November. But he is relishing being back in the mix as the national team bid to see off Ukraine next Wednesday before potentially facing Wales away in the final a few days later.
“It was a good moment to score against Denmark and see the boys perform how we did,” said Souttar. “It wasn’t just the win, it was how we performed and how settled and how well we did as a team.
“I thought we were excellent. That’s what you want to be involved in when you play for Scotland, games like that. The atmosphere was incredible. If I can be involved in any capacity against Ukraine, that would be brilliant.”