Snubbed goalkeeper in no rush for Scotland call

Zander Clark has been in fine form this season. Picture: Jane Barlow
Zander Clark has been in fine form this season. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Zander Clark thinks he is ahead of schedule with St Johnstone but insists he is in no rush to make a Scotland breakthrough.

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The Perth stopper was overlooked by national team boss Gordon Strachan when he named his squad for next week’s double header with Canada and Slovenia.

McDiarmid boss Tommy Wright reckons his number one would already have international honours to his name had he been at a bigger club.

But Clark is just happy he has managed to oust team-mate Alan Mannus from the Saints line-up having only broken into Wright’s top-team last season.

“I feel like I’m playing well,” he said. “As far as the Scotland squad went, there were folk saying to me I might have a chance but I’m just happy to be in playing here for St Johnstone.

“At the start of the season, if you’d said to me I’d have played almost 30 games by March time I’d probably have laughed.

“That was because Al was in such good form. But I’ve been fortunate that when he took ill, I got my chance.

“For me I’m just happy to be playing here. When I got my chance in the first team last year, it was always my target to push for more games this season.

“I’ve managed to achieve that relatively quickly, though, so I probably am ahead of schedule.

“If I can keep doing well then I’m sure a Scotland call-up will come about but it’s not a massive rush for me.”

Clark may not be pushing his case for inclusion in Strachan’s group but he thanked his boss for championing the cause.

Cardiff stopper Allan McGregor has been recalled to join club-mate David Marshall and Celtic’s Craig Gordon in the 30-man squad selected for Wednesday’s friendly clash with Canada and the crucial World Cup qualifier with the Slovenians three days later.

But there was no place for the Saints keeper - sparking this response from Wright: “Zander should be in the national squad and not just because I’m his manager. I do believe if he played at a bigger club he’d be in there.”

The 24-year-old replied: “It’s a massive boost for my confidence to hear him say that. The manager has been an international goalkeeper, so he knows what it takes to get to that level.

“You never know what the future has in store. I believe I’m good enough but I’m not going to stand here and say I should be here or there.

“If my performances merit it, then I’m sure it will one day come about.”

Clark will be denied the opportunity to impress Scotland assistant boss Mark McGhee this weekend when his side travel to Motherwell following his Fir Park sacking.

Stephen Robinson is now in charge of the Steelmen but Clark insists three points is the only motivation he needs as Saints seek to cement their place in the top six.

“That’s not something I ever looked at,” he said when asked if he was disappointed McGhee would no longer be standing in the home dugout. “My focus is always the same - to play well, keep a clean sheet and hopefully pick up the three points.

“We’re in a good position in the league. Nothing is concrete yet but if we get the win on Saturday it will be a massive step towards securing our place in the top six.”

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