Injury update: Scotland keeper Craig Gordon picks up knee knock as Hearts move up to third place in the Premiership
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has dispelled Scottish concerns after goalkeeper Craig Gordon picked up a knee injury as he pulled off another superb save, this time to torment Motherwell.
Steve Clarke’s 39-year-old No 1 required treatment but his club boss says he will be fit enough to join up with the rest of the Scotland squad for the Nations League triple header.
“All the injuries were contact injuries. None of them were muscular,” said Neilson, who saw Alex Cochrane, Andy Halliday and Cammy Devlin join the list of players carrying knocks, while Stephen Kingsley played through the pain.
“Craig landed on his knee, it was fine. Stephen got a wee kick on his knee, Cochrane took a knock on the hip. Cammy just likes a clap when he comes off. But he’s bouncing about in there!
“Craig will be fine for international duty. I think it would take a lot for Craig to miss that.
““It makes a difference not having another game coming up. We’ve got a two-week break to get the players through it.”.
In a match that was far more competitive than the scoreline suggests, Motherwell were also in the wars, with Joe Efford, Rolando Aarons and Rickie Lamie all likely to be sidelined for weeks rather than days, with hamstring and groin strains.
But, while Hearts defended defiantly and were able to call on Gordon, the bar and both posts as they claimed a clean sheet, they were also far more clinical as they made the most of the chances that came their way and claimed all three points as moved up to third in the Premiership.
They were also able to give Orestis Kiomourtzoglou his first start - “I was a bit concerned about throwing him in, away from home, when the game is played at 200 miles an hour. But I thought he handled it well” - while also handing second-half substitute Robert Snodgrass his Hearts debut.
On the back of Thursday night’s UEFA Conference League win in Riga, that pleased Neilson but left his counterpart, Motherwell boss Steven Hammell, stewing, insisting his men had actually conjured up enough scoring opportunities to win several games.
“We created more chances today than we have all season,” said the Fir Park gaffer.
“We looked at the numbers and we had almost 30 shots on goal, hit the woodwork three times.
“Every player had a chance. Not just the strikers. Every player in our team had a chance to score and we are going away with zero so it’s no secret what we need to work on.
““It hurts, 3-0 at home hurts. I don’t think that’s a reflection of the game. We created enough to get something from the game. We just need to be more clinical and that’s been the story of the last three or four games.
“We had the best part of the first part of the game, had numerous chances but didn’t score. In the middle part of the game they scored twice. They were poor goals from our point of view and they didn’t have to work hard for them. But from then until the end we put pressure, pressure, pressure on them, kept good possession and created good quality chances but came away with no goals.
“It’s so disappointing.”
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