Craig Gordon reckons battle with Allan McGregor is far from over

Allan McGregor, left, and Craig Gordon played a game each in the recent double header. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Allan McGregor, left, and Craig Gordon played a game each in the recent double header. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
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Craig Gordon admits he is unsure of his immediate international future but insists he “won’t chuck the toys out of the pram” if he plays second fiddle to Allan McGregor in Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifiers.

The Celtic goalkeeper was left with mixed emotions after an international break which saw him reach a new personal landmark for his country in the 4-0 friendly defeat to Belgium but then sit on the bench as his Rangers rival McGregor was given the nod for the more significant Nations League opener against Albania.

Gordon now has 53 caps, level with Alan Rough and behind only 91-times capped Jim Leighton on Scotland’s appearance list for goalies.

The 35-year-old says Scotland manager Alex McLeish has given him no indication of who will be first choice goalkeeper going forward. Gordon will assess the situation again next month when Scotland have another double header split between Nations League and friendly action, against Israel and Portugal. But, even if McGregor is McLeish’s preference for competitive fixtures, Gordon has no plans for international retirement.

“I want to play as many times for Scotland as I can,” he said. “But if there comes a time when it’s more beneficial for the country to bring in some younger keepers to give them a taste of it, then it may become the case [that he quits].

“If they came to me or Allan at some point in the future and said that’s what they want to do, then that will be the time for us to step aside but right now I want to win as many caps as possible. So I’ll continue to play until I’m no longer asked to.

“I’d love to go to a tournament
finals and I like to think we have a good chance of getting to the Euros so I’m definitely not going to say I don’t want to be involved. I want to be first choice but I’d be happy to go along as back-up if need be.

“So I won’t be chucking the toys out of the pram, because I want to do the best I can for my country. If the decision is taken out of my hands, then fair enough. At some point we are going to have to bring young goalies through. It’s a balancing act between being selfish and giving others an opportunity a couple of years down the line.

“It might have been the case this time that people looked at it and thought Allan is first pick because he played in the qualifier. But we’ve got another two games next time. If that becomes a pattern, then yeah.

“But it could be the other way around next time. I don’t know what the manager is thinking, you would need to ask him. I wasn’t told a great deal, other than we were playing one game each this time. Who knows what’s going to happen, who’s going to be fit for the next one, who’s in form or whatever?

“I want to play as many as I possibly can, I want to play 
every one if I could. But that’s the manager’s decision. I need to play as well as I can for Celtic. I need to train well with Scotland – I was happy with how I trained this time – then it’s up to the manager.”

Gordon’s club goalkeeper coach, Stevie Woods, now has the same role with Scotland but the former Hearts and Sunderland player says that does not impact on his chances of being picked ahead of McGregor.

Gordon added: “It was the same thing the other way round when Jim Stewart was the national team’s goalie coach while at Rangers with Allan and I was playing for Scotland. These things happen. Goalies know the situation, only one is going to play. We both respect each other and the abilities we’ve got. There’s no problem between us and Woodsy enjoyed the coaching with all of us.”

Gordon returns to domestic action tonight as he seeks a fourth consecutive clean sheet for Celtic when they face 
St Mirren in Paisley on Premiership business.

“We want to kick on, do better and improve our game,” he said. “We want a good run of victories with as many clean sheets as we can. We had three in a row before the international break and we want to continue to improve on that.

“We played very well in the last game before the international break against Rangers and to only win it 1-0 was a little bit less than what we deserved from the game.

“We should have scored more goals. We were very dominant and we looked at some things again this morning in terms of what we did well and things we want to keep going.

“We’ve got a busy spell of games now at home and in Europe which is great. Everyone is looking fit and well and ready to go. It is a busy time but we have a good squad that is ready for that.”