Scotland boss Steve Clarke talks about Grant Hanley ahead of Austria game

Steve Clarke described fit Grant Hanley as Scotland’s “rock” ahead of Tuesday’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Austria

After three years out of international training, the Norwich center-back has established himself as one of the first names on the team’s scoresheet since scoring a comeback against Austria in Hampden in March .

Clarke believes Hanley, 29, will be a great player as Scotland aim to boost their hopes of visiting Qatar next year by returning from Vienna with a positive result.

He said: “I think Grant has always been a good center-back. Obviously when you’re a young defender you can be a little more reckless. He’s grown in his game, he’s a more mature player.

“I always liked Grant as a player, even when I was young you could see the qualities he had. You knew he would develop and get better and better as he went. would gain more experience.

“In the last few games for Scotland, I think he has probably been our most consistent player. Not many people have mentioned him, but losing a grant in the game against Croatia (at Euro 2020) was a big factor in the game.

“We lost that big rock at the back, that stabilizing influence. He’s a big boy, a great trainer, he doesn’t cause the slightest problem. He walks in and everyone in the group respects him just because of the way he behaves. He was a big plus for us. “

Clarke expects a tough test in Vienna and won’t say anything about Austria’s weekend collapse in Israel.

The Austrians came under heavy criticism after suffering a surprise 5-2 loss in Haifa on Saturday.

I think Grant has always been a good central defender. Obviously, when you are a young defender, you can be a little more reckless. He grew up in his game, he’s a more mature player

Steve Clarke on Grant Hanley

The result saw Scotland overtake Franco Foda’s side in third place in Group F.

However, Clarke refuses to accept the idea that an Austrian team that took Euro 2020-winning Italy to overtime before withdrawing from the tournament just over two months ago has suddenly become a nation in crisis.

He said: “They are a very good team. They showed it in euros. They came out of their group and took the Italians, the team that won it, to the end, which is a difficult thing to do. So it’s a good team with good players.

“They had a couple of fitness issues and team issues. They have players they probably wanted to be on the squad who aren’t on the squad like us. It’s one of those things that you just have to deal with. We’re going to go and it will be a tough game. It will be a tough game for us and a tough game for them. “

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