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Hanley proves Euro2024 fitness in Scotland run out



Hanley made only eight appearances for the Canaries last season after a long term Achilles injury. 

The 32-year-old briefly returned over the festive period, but then embarked on a personal fitness programme towards the end of the domestic campaign that ruled him out of most of the run-in.

His last club start came in a 3-1 Championship away defeat to Middlesbrough in early March, before he played the final 10 minutes of the regular season finale at Birmingham City.

Hanley started for the Scots alongside City team mate Kenny McLean in Portugal, with Angus Gunn an unused substitute in Faro.

Ryan Christie slotted a 58th minute opener before John McGinn picked out Che Adams for a fine volleyed late finish. Steve Clarke’s squad host Finland on Friday in their final tune up ahead of their opening Euro2024 pool game against hosts Germany on June 14.

Hanley spoke about his injury frustrations ahead of his international friendly return on Monday.

“It’s been a difficult year off the back of quite a bad injury,” he said. “I came back around Christmas time and played a few games – but it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t just my Achilles, it was my ankle in general. So I took a step back, changed a few things and it’s improved. I knew time wasn’t on my side when I made that decision.

“But it was better than trying to get through and it deteriorating quickly. I’m glad I did it because if I hadn’t and tried to persevere, I wouldn’t be sitting here now. I’m grateful to the management and coaching staff at Norwich for getting me the help to get myself right. 

“At this stage, with what I’ve gone through and how things have played out over the last year or so – even more so the last six months – it’s only one day at a time.

“I know roughly what the end goal is, and that’s to hopefully get involved in some capacity here with the Euros. But it’s one day at a time and let’s see where it takes us.”

City’s player-of-the-year McLean featured for 73 minutes at the Estádio Do Algarve in central midfield, alongside ex-Canaries’ loanee Billy Gilmour, on his first international start since a 3-3 home draw against Norway in November 2023.

The 32-year-old’s crucial qualifying goal in a late away win against the Norwegians in June 2023 was a key factor in the Scots’ qualification for this summer’s tournament in Germany.

Clarke’s squad have been drawn in a group with the hosts, Switzerland and Hungary. But the head coach now faces an anxious wait on the fitness of another of his centre backs, Liam Cooper, who replaced Hanley at the break in Portugal but departed with a suspected knee injury.

Having lost Nathan Patterson, Aaron Hickey and Lewis Ferguson before naming his provisional squad, Clarke saw Lyndon Dykes (ankle) ruled out of the tournament last Friday after a training ground injury.

The Scots also had four players missing for this friendly win with Stuart Armstrong, Scott McTominay, Ben Doak and John Souttar working on their fitness.

Christie saw a 22-yard strike saved by debutant keeper Jaylan Hankins before volleying over unmarked from McLean’s cross.

James Forrest also had a good chance but shot into the side net from Andy Robertson’s cutback, Lawrence Shankland was off target from two half-chances and McLean sent a free header over the bar.

The best first-half opportunities came from corners which fell to Hanley. The City centre-back saw a diving header bounce over the bar from inside the six-yard box, then forced a decent stop from another header and missed with his foot from close range.

Gibraltar got their first effort at goal just before the interval but Zander Clark made a comfortable save from Ethan Britto after a ball over Ross McCrorie’s head.

Clarke began a series of substitutions 20 minutes into the half and the stoppages, including the injury to Cooper, who was replaced by Scott McKenna, contributed to a scrappy finale but Adams provided a touch of class when he smashed home McGinn’s cross in the 85th minute.


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