Craig Gordon will move a step closer to the Scotland Hall of Fame if he plays against Slovenia on Sunday – something he seemed destined never to achieve after three years lost to an injury that almost forced him to quit altogether in 2013.
As a result of those struggles, the 3-0 loss to England at Wembley last November marked the 34-year-old’s first competitive start for his country in seven years. It also moved him on to 45 caps. Now, emboldened by a new three-year Celtic contract, Gordon wants to reach the landmark of 50 caps – but in a side pushing for finals.
He said: “I hope playing for Celtic will strengthen my hand with Scotland.
“I’d like to play as many games as possible. I felt we played quite well at times at Wembley but we didn’t take our chances and we were punished.
“If we can keep playing like that against the other teams in the group, we will start to pick up points. We need to start doing that and see where that takes us.
“I would love to be playing in those games but I need to keep performing for Celtic for that to happen. Whether it’s make or break I don’t know but we’ve got to try to win it. There’s not many games left and we need to try to win the majority.”
The Scots can only guarantee themselves a play-off place if they can win their six remaining Group F games. Those are Slovenia home and away, England at Hampden in June, away to Lithuania and finally Malta and Slovakia, both at home.
Gordon, pictured, is in no doubt that Scotland’s bid to achieve the near miraculous has been strengthened by the return to the international fold of his club captain and friend Scott Brown. Gordon said: “He is a good leader but Scott is also a really good player and I think that sometimes gets forgotten. He keeps everything neat and tidy but his passing is a lot better than he gets credit for. He’s a complete midfielder. He can break up play, he can dictate the tempo and he is aggressive.
“I think people think he’s just a hard man in midfield but he is so much more than that. He is a driving force and a vital part of how we play at Celtic. It’s the same for the national team.”