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Football News: Who Should Be Scotland's Number One

When you look at the two men vying for the Scotland number one jersey, it is difficult to put emotion aside and look at it purely on the merits of the two goalkeepers in the frame. The recent return to prominence of Celtic's goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, is one that does sway opinions towards him.

While David Marshall has had a fairly straightforward career path, from back up at Celtic to becoming Cardiff City's undisputed number one keeper, then establishing himself as Scotland's first choice, Gordon's path has been anything but straightforward.

When Gordon established himself at Heart of Midlothian, his main challenger for the Scotland jersey in the long term was Rangers' keeper Alan McGregor. McGregor took the lead, as Gordon moved down south to join Sunderland, where injuries blighted him and effectively kept him out of the game for 2 years.

Since then McGregor's Rangers imploded and he moved to Besiktas, then on to join Marshall and Gordon in the English league with Hull City. Injuries and lack of form have seen McGregor drop below Marshall in the Scotland pecking order, and now Gordon's meteoric return to the top of the Scottish game has put him ahead of McGregor too.

Gordon's time at Sunderland was nothing short of disastrous, with injuries blighting him, he was never able to get a run of games to show if he was good enough to justify the huge price tag he carried. With no contract on offer to him, he left Sunderland in July 2012 and spent the next two years returning to fitness.

The summer of 2014 saw him training with Celtic's rivals Rangers, as he returned to full fitness and looked to earn a contract in professional football once again. Celtic took the plunge, giving him a contract and the starting spot in their new look team under Ronny Deila.

Since then, he has earned player of the year plaudits and won a double with the Bhoys, as they swept all before them in domestic competition. Is that enough to earn the Scotland jersey though?

Yes he won player awards, but was that sentiment or truly based on his performances? We all know he is a good shotstopper, but how truly tested is Celtic's keeper in an SPFL devoid of three of its major clubs in Hibernian, Hearts and Rangers?

Is Gordon really a better keeper than Marshall, or has the Bluebirds goalie done enough to retain his place? Craig Gordon's story is truly inspiring, it is great to see him back in the game and performing well, but sentiment does not win games.

Marshall is not perfect, he can flap at crosses and his positioning is suspect at times, but Gordon's tendency to palm shots straight back out into the danger area is an issue too. Neither goalie is the finished article, neither has an outstanding case to put forward to make them the undisputed number one.

This decision Gordon Strachan has to make is going to be extremely difficult, whichever way he goes it will always be debatable. Still, it is a long way from the days when Scotland's goalkeepers were the butt of jokes in international football, finally there is a choice of keepers that are not a laughing matter and the return of McGregor to fitness will make Strachan's decision even more difficult.

Written by Tris Burke June 10 2015 09:43:30