Wigan's Gary Caldwell keen to aid Scotland's cause
CZECH REPUBLIC v SCOTLAND Venue: Synot Tip Arena, Prague Date: Friday, 8 October Kick-off: 1915 BST Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport website
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez (centre) was a spectator at Scotland training
By Alasdair Lamont
Gary Caldwell has told Scotland coach Craig Levein he is ready to fulfil any role asked of him against the Czech Republic and Spain.
Caldwell has yet to play a first-team match for Wigan this season after recovering from two hip operations.
But, despite being surprised at the call-up from Levein, Caldwell says he is "fit enough to play".
"If it's Friday night or the Tuesday, I've said to the manager I'm ready for that challenge," he said.
Levein had already stressed that he did not expect Caldwell to play both Euro 2012 qualifiers, with the former Hibernian and Celtic player having played just one half of a bounce game and 65 minutes of a reserve game recently.
Caldwell surprised by call up
But he insists making his comeback in an international fixture is not beyond him.
"You will never be match fit unless you play matches and, when you come back from injury, there is always going to be a first game," said Caldwell.
"You are never going to be 100% right. So, whenever that game comes, it probably is going to be gamble. But you have to take that some time."
Roberto Martinez last week said he had come to an agreement with Levein not to use Caldwell for more than 45 minutes and the Wigan manager was a spectator at Scotland's training session on Monday.
But Levein may be tempted to play the 28-year-old in the first match against the Czech Republic, with Lee McCulloch suspended, Paul Hartley and Kevin Thomson injured and Barry Ferguson deciding against a return to international football.
That leaves the Scotland manager without a natural holding midfielder and, although Caldwell generally plays as a central defender, he has been used in midfield in the past.
"I am ready to play and do what the manager asks me to, but that will be his decision," added Caldwell.
But Levein does not plan to take any risks with his fitness.
Caldwell has yet to play a first-team game for Wigan or Scotland this term
"He has been out for a long time but is way ahead of schedule with his recovery," said Levein.
"I wanted him around the place because he is a great character and very professional and I think he will help the rest of the squad.
"I think he can contribute. But, until I see him in training this week, I couldn't tell you how much."
Caldwell admits the prospect of playing the world and European champions Spain is an attractive one but believes the meeting with the Czechs is the more crucial to Scotland's aspirations of reaching the 2012 finals.
"It is not often the world champions come to Hampden and we can go into the game with no fear and just go and play them," he continued.
"When you look back over recent years, even when we have not qualified, we have beaten Holland, we have drawn with Germany and beaten France, so we do have a good record against bigger teams.
"But I think Spain is an altogether different challenge. They are probably one of the best national teams there has been for a long time.
"Both are big games, but Friday night, in terms of qualifying, is probably the bigger game.
"If we can go there and win then it will be a massive boost for us and knock them back."
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