Steven Naismith: 50th cap would justify Hearts return decision

By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Scotland's Steven Naismith and Callum McGregor
Steven Naismith (left) is back after missing much of the season through injury
Euro 2020 qualifying: Cyprus v Scotland
Venue: GSP Stadium, Nicosia Date: Saturday, 16 November Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, live text commentary on the BBC Sport Scotland website & app.

Forward Steven Naismith hopes to end a year-long wait for his landmark 50th Scotland cap - which will vindicate his decision to sign for Hearts.

The 33-year-old chose a return to the Scottish Premiership this summer ahead of options to play outside of the UK.

A hamstring injury has restricted his club games, but he is in contention to feature for Scotland against Cyprus.

"The biggest thing playing in Scotland does is put you in the limelight with the coverage," Naismith said.

"It was part of my decision. If I was to go abroad and choose one of the offers further afield then that would have probably suggested I would not earn more caps, but I didn't want to give up on that."

Naismith - who won his first cap in the Faroes Islands in 2007 - never lost hope of reaching the 50 mark, even when he found himself out of favour at Norwich City before joining Hearts on loan last year.

However, he has had a frustrating time since making the move permanent after his summer release by the English Championship club.

He ended a three-month absence by coming on as a substitute in Hearts' League Cup semi-final defeat by Rangers, then scored the opener in Saturday's 5-2 win over over St Mirren as he played his first full 90 minutes of the season.

Naismith knows he is rated by Scotland head coach Steve Clarke - "he tried to sign me a couple of times" - but is taking nothing for granted as he looks to win his first cap since scoring in a 3-1 defeat by Portugal in October 2018.

"I am looking forward to it, but I've got to go and train well first and hopefully get the nod from the manager," he told BBC Scotland.

"It would be great. I've been on 49 for a while now, so I've had time to think what it would mean, but throughout my Scotland career, I have felt grateful rather than having the expectation of getting there."

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