Steve Clarke says Jamie MacDonald’s Scotland call-up is the Kilmarnock goalkeeper’s reward for years of consistency.
Sunderland keeper Jon McLaughlin was originally included by Alex McLeish in the 23-man group selected for this month’s crucial Nations League double-header against Albania and Israel. But with the Black Cats facing an important League One clash with Wycombe on 17 November – the same day the Scots play in Shkoder – McLaughlin has been spared international duty, with his place going to 32-year-old MacDonald.
The former Hearts keeper has ten Scotland Under-21 caps but has never been capped at senior level but Clarke says his keeper fully merits his inclusion. He said: “It’s a good reward for Jamie for the level of consistency since I came into the club, so I’m delighted for him. He’s a model professional. He works well every day in training, good in the group, good in the dressing room, uses his experience well. So to get called up is a good little boost for Jamie at this stage in his career.
“The main goalkeepers that Scotland have used over the years have always been at a really high level so it’s always been difficult for other goalkeepers to get a look in.”
Clarke, meanwhile, backed referee Don Robertson to handle the “volatile” Tynecastle atmosphere as his Killie said take on table-topping Hearts.
The sides’ first meeting back in August landed Clarke in trouble with the Scottish FA as he criticised official Willie Collum for the controversial red card he showed to midfielder Gary Dicker.
The former West Brom and Reading manager was given a suspended two-match ban for his comments about Collum and the Hampden appeals process. But ahead of their capital rematch, Clarke is pleased with the choice of official.
He said: “I think it will be a really difficult game. You get a really volatile atmosphere through there at Tynecastle, the crowd shouts for every decision. But we have a good referee this weekend, so there’s no problems with that one. It can be an intimidating place to go or it can be a great place to go in front of a passionate football crowd.”