Clarke has not hesitated to accord Gordon this status – which the 38-year-old last enjoyed as a Celtic player four years ago – as he named his squad for the trip to Denmark next Wednesday, which will be followed by a home game with Moldova on the Sunday before an Austrian assignment three days later.
Gordon left Celtic in the summer of 2020 for Championship football at Tynecastle with the express intention of adding to his caps total, now standing at 57, and earning a berth for the Euro 2020 finals. The keeper achieved both as he helped his first club back to the top flight but, having had to play second fiddle to David Marshall at Scotland’s first tournament in 23 years during the summer, the situation has turned in his favour.
Marshall’s travails at Derby County, where he has been relegated to third choice keeper, and a problem that prevented Rangers Jon McLaughlin being named in the squad, has cleared the way for Gordon to be assured of starting the forthcoming qualifiers – uncapped pair St Johnstone’s Zander Clark and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly the other keepers in the pool.
“Craig just wanted to play football and he felt that leaving Celtic was the best way to do that,” said Clarke of a brave career change that has been rewarded. “I had spoken to Craig a few times over the years and he has always known what I think of him as a goalkeeper. One of the conversations we had he actually said to me ‘maybe I’ll have to leave to get first team football to get involved with Scotland again.’
“That’s what he wanted, to be involved. Now the way it’s fallen, in this camp for this squad, he’ll be the No.1 goalkeeper. And I look forward to seeing him play. He’ll work with [new goalkeeping coach] Chris Woods who will be a good addition to the squad. I hope the goalkeepers will learn a little bit from him as well.”