Clark still number one for Naismith despite Gordon's return from injury

Craig Gordon returned from a year-long injury to take a place on the bench on Wednesday night.

Zander Clark still number one for Hearts boss Steven Naismith despite Craig Gordon’s return from injury SNS Group

Hearts manager Steven Naismith says Zander Clark remains his first choice goalkeeper despite club legend Craig Gordon’s return from injury.

Gordon has been out for just under a year after suffering a double leg break on Christmas Eve 2022.

But the 40-year-old Scotland stopper has now returned to the first-team and was on the bench for Wednesday night’s defeat to Rangers.

The return of the 74-times capped international has sparked suggestions he will replace Clark between the sticks for Hearts and make a return to Steve Clarke’s squad in time for next summer’s European Championships.

However the Tynecastle boss insists Clark, who was signed in 2022 after leaving St Johnstone, is still in pole position to hold on to the number one jersey.

Speaking to the media on Thursday he said: “It’s different from the other players returning from injury because it’s a goalkeeper, it’s one of those where you look at the player who’s been playing and has the jersey and again last night Zander has some fantastic saves.

“He had some big saves for us which kept us in the game, as much as we don’t go on to get anything from the game, he keeps us in it.

“Through this season Zander has been really good, and consistent, so at this moment in time I think he is the right guy to be playing in goals.

“Craig is coming back, the next stage is being involved in the matchday squads. But if there is a time, whatever that maybe or when, we will see, but at the moment Zander is the guy who’s playing.

“I think he (Zander Clark) has been really good, I think he’s consistently played and consistently performed at a good level.

“As with any goalkeeper, when they make a mistake it is jumped upon, I think when we have some great goalkeepers here that gets emphasised at any point.

“But Zander has been a consistent performer for me in the last year, he’s come here probably in strange circumstances for someone in his position.

“He has won a double with St Johnstone, then not had a club for a period before coming here as a number two at a stage of his career when he is really experienced.

“Then Craig gets injured and he has to get up to speed quickly, and then continuously perform.

“In that period he has made his Scotland debut, got more caps, and I think he is in a much better position now than he was a year ago. So It’s been a positive year for him.”

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