Newcastle defender Grant Hanley has been told to ignore the criticism.

Hanley came in for widespread criticism for his role in the draw with Lithuania and defeat in Slovakia, with the likes of Willie Miller bemoaning the quality of defender available to Scotland these days.

Despite recent results/performances at international level, Grant Hanley is expected to step out at Wembley on Friday night in the starting eleven, in what is a massive game for Scotland.

At club level, things started really badly for the former Blackburn Captain at Newcastle, a poor individual and team performance saw NUFC go down 1-0 at Craven Cottage.

However, since then, despite opportunities being limited, Grant Hanley has been on the winning side in all seven Newcastle matches he has featured in.

The Scottish international playing every minute of the three League Cup matches – winning all three, keeping three clean sheets, a goals record of 10-0 over the trio of games.

At Championship level, Grant Hanley has come off the bench to play a part in the wins over QPR (6-0 and he scored), Preston (2-1), Rotherham (1-0) and Brentford (3-1).

With Lascelles and Clark looking good together and Chancel Mbemba waiting in the wings, it will be tough for Hanley to get his chance – which makes it all the more important that he performs at Wembley given the chance.

Hanley grew up with Falkirk defender Aaron Muirhead in Dumfries and his friend is backing him to pull through for Scotland after getting ‘a good move’ to Newcastle.

The Newcastle centre-back is also scheduled to be Muirhead’s best man when he marries in 2018, no mention though of whether that date potentially clashes with the next World Cup in Russia….

Falkirk defender Aaron Muirhead speaking to Capital City Press:

“I grew up with Grant and I speak to him most days.

“He came under a wee bit of criticism recently but I know myself as a defender that when the team is not winning, defenders or goalkeepers can get stick.

“He got himself a good move (to Newcastle) and I am chuffed for him, hopefully he plays on Friday and we get a good result.

“He’s also going to be the best man at my wedding, so hopefully he does well.

“I am proud of him being involved with Scotland, it’s a good achievement.

“He is a young lad and has a fair few caps.”