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Moilanen: kid gloves deserves a chance


TEPI MOILANEN today insisted that Hearts team-mate Craig Gordon deserves his big chance with Scotland next week.

The Finnish keeper has been kept out of the first team for the past five months by the 21-year-old, who saw his impressive domestic form rewarded with his first call-up to Berti Vogts’ squad when the German unveiled his pool for the friendly against Romania at Hampden Park.

Balerno kid Gordon is unsure if he will be called upon on Wednesday and is looking forward to using the experience alongside Celtic No.1 Rab Douglas and Dundee United’s Paul Gallacher as part of his steep learning curve.

Moilanen was delighted to learn of the youngster’s inclusion and sees no reason why he should not be given a chance to demonstrate the qualities everyone at Tynecastle has grown to admire.

"Craig no doubt has a big future in front of him," said the former Preston North End keeper.

"I haven’t been following the Scotland scene too closely so don’t really know how the goalkeepers other than Rab Douglas is doing.

"There is Paul Gallacher, Jonathan Gould and Neil Alexander all waiting in the wings but I think Craig’s time should come sooner rather than later. There is nobody who I have seen who has produced better than what Craig has been doing this season, so why not give him a chance?"

Moilanen first came across Gordon during his loan spell from Preston last season, the Finn having been signed by boss Craig Levein in an emergency after Roddy McKenzie broke a finger during the club’s winter break in Portugal.

After making the move permanent last summer, the beanpole keeper started the season as Levein’s first choice but soon found himself deposed by the ever-improving Gordon.

"I saw him for the first time last season when I came up from Preston," he said. "I realised then that this was a guy with potential but I don’t think anyone could have foreseen what he has achieved so far.

"He has done superbly well, has really stepped up his game and his consistency week in, week out for a young keeper has been impressive.

"He’s a laid-back guy but has a game plane which he sticks to and it’s good to work with him in training as we are of similar build so have to work on the same kind of things."

While watching Gordon’s remarkable progress from the sidelines, Moilanen has been forced to keep on top of his own game in the under-21s, the youngster having been an ever-present in the first team since being selected for the win over Partick Thistle at Firhill in October.

The Finn knows he will have his work cut out to regain ownership of the gloves in the weeks ahead, and said: "Craig’s success is great for himself as well as the club, even it makes it a bit more frustrating for me at the moment.

"It is nice to see people doing well, irrespective of what position they are in.

"But I have to keep working hard on my game and doing well in the under-21s and wait and see what happens. I don’t mind the 21s. I have specific things which I work on in games and try to produce my best all the time.

"Just as you try to block out everything in the big games, so you do the same at the so-called lesser matches."

Moilanen is now feeling much more settled in the Capital following his move north, although he admitted last autumn was a tough period for him and his young family.

"We had so much to do and everything seemed to be needed to be done urgently," he said. "It was a really busy period and there were lots of changes all at the same time.

"There was chicken pox in the family and I was also having problems with a niggling knee injury.

"But everything is fine now, the family is great and enjoying Edinburgh and I am feeling good about my game and my body is feeling good.

"I can only wait to see if I get back into the team but the most important thing for me is that I am feeling on top of my game just now."

Taken from the Scotsman

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