Georgia 2-2 Scotland: Should Lawrence Shankland be on the plane to Germany next summer?

On Monday, Lawrence Shankland was challenged by Scotland assistant manager John Carver to use his late Scotland call-up to stake his claim for a seat on the plane to Germany next summer.

"This is an extra opportunity for him over the next week because he didn't expect to be here," Carver said.

Three days later, with the Dinamo Arena clock ticking towards the 85th minute, the Hearts captain would have been doubting whether he was going to be able to grasp that chance in Tbilisi.

But seven minutes later, the 28-year-old was wheeling away in front of an away end in bedlam after nodding in a stoppage-time leveller to rescue a point for Scotland in Georgia.

"I'm grateful to get that goal," said Shankland, adding that he was thankful "it wasn't pivotal" given the Scots have already qualified for next summer's finals.

However, the Hearts striker will be hoping it is decisive in earning him a spot in Steve Clarke's Euro 2024 squad.

'He always gives you a chance of scoring'

"I really like Shankland," former Scotland and current St Johnstone boss Craig Levein said on Sportsound. "You look at him, he's not particularly quick - at international level that's quite an important part.

"But he's just a goalscorer, isn't he? You put that ball in the penalty box, he will use his body so well and he's strong. You've always got a chance of scoring."

Given Shankland needed just three touches in the Georgia box to get his goal, that only highlights Levein's observation.

Those three touches matched the tally of Lyndon Dykes, who spent 85 minutes on the pitch in comparison to Shankland's 13.

The Queens Park Rangers forward also failed to convert with two close-range headers that fell his way, the first of which was glanced past the far post before forcing the keeper into a sharp save after the break.

Shankland, though, made sure his found the net.

"Credit to the wee man, it's a finish I've seen him do many a time," Scotland keeper Zander Clark said of his Hearts team-mate. "He's been in good form for our club, so I'm delighted to see him come on and get the goal to get us a point."

Shankland's patience pays off

Shankland has had to be patient. His only other Scotland goal came in his second cap against San Marino back in October 2019.

Since then, the striker has racked up over 60 club goals - across spells with Dundee United, Beerschot in Belgium, and Hearts - but has earned just a further four caps, none of which have been starts.

He was left out of Clarke's last two squads despite his goalscoring outweighing the strikers who took his place, and was only drafted into the current set-up after Southampton striker Che Adams pulled out.

Granted, the levels of the leagues in question come into this debate but, since the start of last season, Dykes has netted nine times, Adams is on 13 and Luton's Jacob Brown has nine.

Shankland, meanwhile, is sitting on 38, six of which have come in his last six matches for club and country after an eight-game drought.

Carver called on the Hearts man to take inspiration from former Hibernian centre-back Ryan Porteous, who "has never looked back" since making an unexpected debut in a crucial Nations League draw with Ukraine in Poland.

With a memorable qualifying campaign coming to an end against Norway at Hampden on Sunday, Shankland will surely have another chance to prove that his Tbilisi moment can be his catalyst, just as Porteous did in Krakow.

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