First Team

Alexander's acclaim

9th November 2015

Goalkeeper heaps praise on side for winning form, and tips Callum Paterson for Scotland call.

Neil Alexander acclaimed his teammates for grinding out a deserved 2-0 win over a physical Hamilton Accies side on Saturday.

The Jambos consolidated their spot in 2nd place in the Ladbrokes Premiership after first-half strikes from Prince Buaben and Arnaud Djoum saw off the Lanarkshire challenge.

“It was very tough today, as we knew it would be,” said the former Scotland keeper. “When we played at their place, it was a very physical encounter so we knew we’d have to face up to that.

“The boys were up for it today, especially after how the last match went, and they wanted to right a few wrongs. The performance today was OK, the first half was excellent and we didn’t need to go the extra mile at 2-0.”

When asked if the team’s form was a surprise to anybody at the club, the goalkeeping coach affirmed his belief that the team were capable of beating anybody in Scotland on their day.

“We’ve got some really good players in that dressing room,” opined Alexander. “There’s real belief in the group. We knew it would be hard making the step up but we’re a very capable bunch, and we do well as a team.

“We work hard as a unit, we fight for each other. Some days are better than others, sure, but with the attributes we have, let’s see where that can take us.”

Osman Sow lit up proceedings again with another dazzling display leading from the front. The rapid-quick striker is now starting to find full fitness after a troubled start to the season.

A former team-mate of the frontman from their Crystal Palace days, Alexander raved about the qualities of the towering Swede, but admitted he may soon find himself playing at a higher level than the Ladbrokes Premiership.

“I spoke to the manager about Osman when we were in for him and couldn’t recommend him highly enough. I knew he’d do well in Scotland and it’s turned out that way – so much so that it’ll be tough to keep him. 

“We’ve got a lot of players here who can go on to have fantastic careers elsewhere but from a selfish point of view I hope we can hold on to them for a wee bit longer.”

Lastly, with national team coach Gordon Strachan stating he wishes to start blooding some of the country’s younger players ahead of the World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign next year, Neil confirmed his feeling that Scotland had a potential star down Gorgie way.

Without failing to mention the numerous Scotland U21 stars playing regularly for Hearts, including last season’s player of the year in Jamie Walker, Alexander was asked his thoughts on the potential of right-back Callum Paterson.

“Callum is fantastic – he can be as good as he wants to be,” the stopper enthused. “I truly believe he’ll be a big player for Scotland one day, the attacking wing-back role is the one that Callum loves and that’s just like Alan Hutton.

“One thing about Callum is he has fantastic spring. He doesn’t get beaten in the air very often and that maybe puts him ahead of Alan. I’d definitely stick him in the Scotland squad and get him used to the environment and how the national side play.

““He’s a fantastic pro and has every attribute to be a top, top player,” continued the ex-Rangers man. “He’s been outstanding for two seasons, has captained the club, played over 100 games and for a right-back to have his goals record is incredible.

“For him it’s all about development. The future looks good if he can keep his feet on the ground and progress.”