Caldwell’s Scot a job to do

Gary Caldwell
Gary Caldwell

GARY Caldwell knows a thing or two about rolling his sleeves up to get the job done.

And the Wigan skipper is ready to give his all as Scotland aim to take a huge step towards qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

The Scots haven’t qualified for a major tournament for 14 years, but there is a quiet confidence around the Tartan camp that their long wait could soon be at an end.

Results have picked up under Craig Levein and – despite being drawn in a tough-looking group alongside Serbia, Croatia, Belgium, Wales and Macedonia – Caldwell says qualification for Brazil ’14 is well within reach.

“There is no weak team in the group – but there’s also no one team that is going to run away with it,” he told the Observer.

“In recent years, we’ve always been in with a Spain or a Holland and, with all due respect to us, it’s always going to be difficult to top a group with teams like that.

“This time we’ve been put in a group where every team is relatively strong, every team will be competitive, and hopefully we can capitalise on that and do well.

“The way we’re looking at it is there’ll be a lot of points being dropped by everyone, and hopefully we can take full advantage.”

Scotland kick off their campaign with back-to-back home games against Serbia this Saturday, and Macedonia next Tuesday.

And the former Celtic man is targeting six points to send a message out to the rest of the group.

“The important thing is to get off to a good start, and we’ve a big chance of doing that,” he said.

“We wanted two home games to start with and we’ve got that.

“It’s up to us now to make sure we get off to a flyer.”

Caldwell has shown his versatility on the international stage by filling in as a holding midfield player when injuries have affected the Scotland camp of late.

But he is hoping to return to his more familiar centre-back position when the action gets underway this weekend.

When asked if he fancied another midfield run-out, he replied: “I hope not! I do enjoy it, I played a lot of it when I was younger, but now I’m getting older it’s too much running for my liking.

“Hopefully, we’ll have more options back for this squad and I won’t have to fulfil that role.”

Although James McArthur wasn’t named in the squad because of injury, Caldwell is joined in the Scotland camp by in-form Shaun Maloney, who notched his first goal of the season last weekend.

“It’s good for the club that we’ve got a few players in the Scotland set-up,” Caldwell added.

“It helps when we come back to the club having shared in experiences. Fraser Fyvie could well be stepping up too in the next few years, because I’ve no doubts once he gets into the Wigan side he will have a big chance of getting into the Scotland team.”

Elsewhere this week, team-mate James McCarthy will be hoping to start for Ireland when they take on Kazakhstan.

Maynor Figueroa and Honduras have a double-header against Cuba in Havana and San Pedro Sula to look forward to, while Antolin Alcaraz’s Paraguay face Argentina in Cordoba and then Venezuela in Asuncion.