ST MIRREN manager Danny Lennon reckons Craig Samson’s dramatic Scotland call-up can help the Buddies pursue their dream of a top six finish in the SPL.
Samson has been drafted into Craig Levein’s squad to face Cyprus in Larnaca on Friday after Cardiff City ace David Marshall pulled out through injury.
Lennon reckons ‘Sammy’ will relish the chance to show the national team boss what he can do after a series of brilliant displays for Saints this season.
And he also believes St Mirren will benefit from the confidence boost the 27-year-old shot-stopper will gain from his taste of international football.
Lennon told Express Sports: “I’m delighted for Craig. His call-up gives everyone here a lift and it’s also great for his family, who have been very supportive of him.
“All of his hard work has paid off and, hopefully, this call-up will ensure he kicks on to another level.
“Craig was involved in the Under-21 set-up earlier in his career and I know that he’ll be buzzing from being around the senior squad, which will benefit us when he comes back from Cyprus.”
Samson signed for St Mirren from Ayr United last year but struggled to get ahead of Paul Gallacher in the battle for the number one shirt.
However, he was handed a chance to shine between the sticks when Gallacher was sidelined for three months following a knee operation.
And, when Gallacher moved to Dunfermline during the summer, Samson established himself as Lennon’s first-choice goalie.
He has played in every SPL and Scottish Communities League Cup match this season, collecting seven clean sheets along the way and leaving summer signing Graeme Smith to watch from the subs’ bench.
Lennon said: “Craig did really well last season when he took over from Paul Gallacher.
“You could argue that, when Paul came back from his injury, Craig should have stayed in the team but management is all about decisions and, sometimes, hard choices have to be made.
“This season, he has been given another chance in the team and he hasn’t looked back since.”
Samson won’t be a stranger to Levein as, earlier this season, he answered an SOS from the Scotland manager when the Bravehearts travelled to Dublin to take on Wales in a Carling Cup match.
On that occasion, he was asked to lend a hand as the Scotland goalkeepers were put through their paces at training.
Now Samson, who won five caps for Scotland at Under-21 level, will be hoping to see some action in Cyprus.
And, if he does get the chance to play, it will be a proud moment for St Mirren goalkeeping coach Paul Mathers.
Lennon said: “You have to give credit to Paul, who has worked terrifically well with our goalkeepers – not just Craig and Graeme Smith, but the younger ones too.
“Paul saw the raw potential in Craig and believed in him. This season, he’s really shown what he is capable of and now that has been recognised with this Scotland call-up.”