There is no doubt in Craig Gordon’s mind that John Souttar is among the best defenders in Scotland.

Having played alongside the powerful centre-back at Hearts, Gordon knows more than most about his attributes on and off the pitch.

Gordon – currently in rehab after a horror double leg-break – has had his fair share of injury struggles but knows just how difficult a time Souttar has had to come through in his career to date.

Still just 26, Souttar has already had to overcome a problematic ankle knock, a ruptured achilles tendon, serious hip injury, ankle surgery and a second achilles tendon setback.

For Gordon, seeing Souttar enjoy a run of matches at the tail end of the season at Rangers and land a call-up to the national team after all he has been through is a special sight.

“I’m delighted for him as he’s been through some horrendous times with injuries in his career,” beamed Gordon. “He’s still relatively young too, to have gone through as much as he has.

“He got his move to Rangers and when he played in his first game he was probably still not quite recovered from the injury he sustained at Hearts.

“He was just desperate to do well at a new club and didn’t want to be injured.

“He tried to get through that first few weeks and it didn’t work out for him. It’s been a long road back and that must have been difficult.

“He would have been sitting in the treatment room for months without feeling part of it.

“And not really getting to know his team-mates and how they play.

“That first pre-season is always vitally important at a new club and John didn’t really get that opportunity to cement his place in the team.

“But he’s come in for the tail end of the season and shown what he can do.”

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Souttar missed the recent Scotland training camp in Spain but was named in the squad for the Euro qualifiers against Norway and Georgia this week.

However, a reported injury setback could see the defender miss out on another couple of caps.

It'd be a bitter blow to Steve Clarke’s preparations with Gordon pinpointing Souttar’s unique qualities which rank him among the best Scotland has to offer defensively.

“He’s one of the best defenders in Scotland and has quite rightly got himself back in the squad,” he added.“He gives is great distribution from the back. He has threaded balls for Rangers right through the middle of the park. We don’t have that many guys who can play those types of passes.

“He’s also a threat from set pieces. He got the goal against Celtic - albeit off a little deflection - but he can attack the ball, as he did for Scotland against Denmark too.

“He really is a complete centre-half and it’s great to see him back in the squad. If called upon against Norway I’m sure he’d do a good job.”

Previously commenting on Souttar’s fitness – along with Liam Cooper and Nathan Patterson who also missed the camp in Spain – Clarke said: "They couldn’t be with us this week but they’re with their clubs, working hard on their fitness, and we’ll give them every chance to be ready to join us next week in Glasgow.

"We’ve got good cover in all positions and that’s why I picked a slightly larger squad than I normally would."