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Robbie Neilson backs Craig Gordon for Scotland comeback

Gordon was a star performer as Hearts reached the Scottish Cup final.

Robbie Neilson backs Craig Gordon for Scotland comeback SNS Group

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson praised Craig Gordon for his Scottish Cup heroics and said he believes the veteran goalkeeper should be back in the reckoning for a Scotland place.

Gordon left Celtic in the summer to rejoin first club Hearts and showed he is still a man for the big occasion with two top-class saves to help his side beat Hibs 2-1 in the cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday.

The 37-year-old was named man of the match after stopping a first half Kevin Nisbet header from close-range that looked destined for the back of the net, before denying Christian Doidge over-head kick late into extra time.

Though the keeper’s last cap for Scotland came two years ago and he had been left out of the last squad, Neilson said that national team manager Steve Clarke would be considering his options.

“He is a top keeper,” the Hearts boss said. “I will be honest, when the ball goes into the box, I don’t think anyone is going to score.

“His reaction saves are unbelievable

“We see it every day in training. He has presence at the back and he talks and organises his team.

“If I was a centre half – he is the best guy in the world to have behind you because he will talk to you and you know he is going to be secure.

“So he has been great for us and he is desperate to get back into the Scotland squad to try to get to the Euros if we qualify.

“He has definitely given Steve a few questions because after the last couple of performances he has had, and this was on TV, in my opinion there is nobody better out there than Craig.”

Gordon has won the Scottish Cup with Hearts as well as picking up seven trophies at the national stadium with Celtic  and he said the derby win against the odds was among his best experiences at Hampden.

“It’s right up there, “he said. “There’s been such a big build-up for us, coming back to pre-season early and with everything that’s gone on with being relegated and the Championship season starting later.

This was our focus, to get back here and put on a show. That is something we’ve talked about and has been the focus for a number of weeks.

“We’ve come here and carried out the plan and got the win.“

The Hearts goalkeeper also paid tribute to his former teammate Marius Zaliukas, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 36.

“He was a fantastic teammate,” he said. “I played with him on quite a few occasions and he was such a great defender and a real leader.

“So that was very sad news to hear.

“It’s a very sad time but I’m glad we got a result that would have made him proud.”