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Hearts defender John Souttar called up by Scotland for World Cup qualfiers

Heart of Midlothian v Hibernian – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Hearts defender John Souttar has won a late Scotland call-up.

The centre-back comes in for Grant Hanley, whose absence was confirmed by Norwich on Friday after he was ruled out for several weeks by a groin injury.

Ryan Fraser has also withdrawn from the squad but nobody has taken his place. No reason was given for Fraser’s withdrawal in a brief squad update from the Scottish Football Association.

Souttar was sent off in the most recent of his three Scotland appearances, a 2-1 defeat against Israel in October 2018.

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The 25-year-old suffered a serious Achilles injury in February 2020 which kept him out for 14 months but has been in impressive form for Hearts this season on the right of a back three, the same defensive system preferred by Steve Clarke.

Fraser was an unused substitute for Newcastle during their draw with Brighton on Saturday.

The former Bournemouth player has played just off the front for Scotland and started the last game, against the Faroe Islands, at right wing-back.

Ryan Fraser

Ryan Fraser is set to be reunited with Eddie Howe (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Fraser’s former Bournemouth boss, Eddie Howe, is poised to take over at Newcastle around 18 months after the wide player decided against signing a short-term contract extension with the Cherries which would have allowed him to play in the delayed finale to the season after the first lockdown.

Bournemouth were relegated from the Premier League and Howe left his job.

Scotland face Moldova in Chisinau on Friday before rounding off their World Cup qualification group with a home clash against Denmark three days later.

Clarke’s side will guarantee a play-off place if they collect three points from the two games.

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