Lawrence Shankland offered Hearts support after Scotland snub as update on Odel Offiah situation issued

Naismith has seen ‘drastic’ improvement in striker’s form and hopes he will keep trying to catch Clarke’s eye

Hearts manager Steven Naismith has urged captain and star striker Lawrence Shankland to maintain his current form and keep catching national team boss Steve Clarke’s eye after being overlooked for the latest Scotland squad.

Shankland was left out of the October international window to give him a rest and rediscover his form after a barren goalscoring run and despite the 28-year-old netting three goals in his past four appearances and improving his general play, he has been omitted from Clarke’s 23-man squad to face Georgia and Norway later this month. Capped five times by his country, Shankland is keen to impress ahead of next summer’s European Championships and Naismith believes his upturn in performances won’t go unnoticed.

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“I'm looking at the fixtures that he's played in from the last camp to this camp and I think he's given himself a really good chance,” said Naismith on Shankland’s situation. “His performance levels have drastically increased and he's been scoring goals. I think that is what the manager [Steve Clarke] will have been asking him to do. It won't go unnoticed even though he is not in this squad. I think the manager has an understanding of what Shanks can do. I think Shanks will be disappointed – inevitably – because there's a Euros coming up, but, all he can do is perform at Hearts and make sure he gives himself the best chance to be in the next squad.”

Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland has been left out of the Scotland squad.Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland has been left out of the Scotland squad.
Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland has been left out of the Scotland squad.

Shankland’s rest last month reinvigorated the former Dundee United hitman and Naismith expects him to work hard during the two-week pause in domestic football. “The last one [break] was the bigger one because he went away in the summer, didn't get much of a break, wanted to come back pre-season and be involved and it's a tough toll to be constantly involved and constantly playing, so that rest was needed,” continued the Hearts manager. “This break, I think he'll be more disappointed and I think he'll work hard. He needed that break, he needed to recharge, I think it was important for him, but he still needs to work and make sure he's on top form for this run of games all the way through to the next camp. That determination is what will be driving him on.”

Naismith also offered an update on the situation with on-loan Brighton defender Odel Offiah, who has returned to his parent club for more tests and treatment following a medical scare. The right-back missed Sunday’s Viaplay Cup semi-final against Rangers last weekend and fresh from a health issue earlier in the season, Hearts do not want to take any chances with the 21-year-old

“He's gone back down the road because he's got some health issues that we need to make sure are resolved before he gets back involved in the intensity of what we are doing,” confirmed Naismith. “It's as simple as that. We'll see how that plays out in due course. For stuff to happen more recently, it changes the dynamics of it. That needs to be checked out and with him not being our player, we're not willing to take any risks.”