'A beast' - Scotland assistant heaps praise on City skipper
- Credit: PA
Scotland assistant manager John Carver has hailed the influence of Norwich City captain Grant Hanley on Steve Clarke's squad, on and off the pitch.
The 29-year-old has started the last nine matches that he's been available for on the international stage, missing a 2-2 friendly draw with the Netherlands in June ahead of the Euros as one of the players isolating as a precaution due to a positive Covid19 test in the camp.
The former Blackburn and Newcastle centre-back has only come off in one of those games, limping off 33 minutes into the 3-1 defeat to Croatia at Hampden Park which confirmed the Scots were exiting the Euros at the group stage.
Prior to that result, Hanley had been voted runner-up in the Player of the Season voting at City after leading Daniel Farke's team to the Championship title but that hamstring injury saw him miss all of pre-season before going straight back into Premier League action.
“He’s been a rock,” said former Newcastle boss Carver. “And certainly since I’ve been here, he’s been our most consistent player.
“He’s a beast, he’s an animal. But you know what, off the park, he’s low maintenance. He’s one of the nicest guys.
"He’s up first thing in the morning for breakfast, cheerful, big smile on his face. He’s a gentle giant.
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“I like how he is off the pitch and I love the way he is on the pitch. He gives everything."
Scotland bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to Euros semi-finalists Denmark as they edged a 1-0 win over Moldova on Saturday.
They head to Austria on Tuesday evening sitting third behind leaders Denmark and Israel, who beat the Austrians 5-2 on Saturday, knowing that victory would be a huge boost to hopes of World Cup qualification but that avoiding defeat will be crucial.
“Let’s not forget, he’s approaching 40 caps over 10 years. He didn’t get a cap for three years," Carver continued, speaking to the Scotsman.
“But since he’s come in he’s been amazing. He was a big loss when we lost him against Croatia in that final game of the Euros.
“You can see he’s worked extremely hard to get himself fit. He’s had a tough start to the season with Norwich.
“But from a personal point of view, he’s the linchpin for us – that’s for sure.”
Canaries team-mates Kenny McLean and Billy Gilmour are also in the squad, with Chelsea loanee Gilmour named Man of the Match against Moldova and McLean coming off the bench.