The Hearts star who is the perfect solution to the unthinkable Scotland-Kieran Tierney dilemma

In Stephen Kingsley, Hearts have the ready-made replacement for Kieran Tierney if the Arsenal star misses Scotland's World Cup play-off encounter with Ukraine.

The former Celtic star underwent surgery on a knee injury which will keep him out for the remainder of the season.

He delivered an update confirming the surgery went well but he is viewed as touch-and-go for the Scotland game.

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Tierney has proven himself to be one of the most important, if not the most important player to Steve Clarke, helping the back three function so well from his left-sided centre-back position.

Stephen Kingsley has been in hugely impressive form for Hearts this season. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Stephen Kingsley has been in hugely impressive form for Hearts this season. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Stephen Kingsley has been in hugely impressive form for Hearts this season. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Kingsley may be the closest player to a like-for-like change after impressing in the same role in the same system for much of the season for Hearts. He’s even demonstrated his ability as a centre-back in a back four.

The 27-year-old is strong in the air, composed in possession and from the left of a back three is very able at bringing the ball out of defence or providing over and under-lapping runs, working in tandem with the left wing-back, akin to that relationship between Tierney and Andy Robertson.

In addition, he’s the top scoring defender in the Premiership, alongside Rangers’ James Tavernier, after notching his sixth goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Hibs.

“It’s something I’ve not focused on too much,” Kingsley admitted when asked about a Scotland call-uop.

"I just need to focus on doing well with Hearts, if that leads to a call-up then we’ll take it from there. I’ve kept that mentality all season that I’ll focus on here so whatever happens outwith here happens and I feel I’ve done quite well this season, so I’m going to stick with that.

Hearts team-mate Craig Gordon is a key member of Steve Clarke's squad, while Craig Halkett was a recent call-up, showing the pathway is there.

“Halkett’s is deserved, absolutely deserved,” Kingsley, who has one Scotland cap to his name, said.

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"There’s been boys that have done very well and have deserved their call-ups and hopefully there’s more to come, but all anyone can do is to just keep focusing on the next game and if that results in a call-up then brilliant.”

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