Gary Caldwell will be happy to retreat into defence after surprise midfield berth
Gary Caldwell enjoyed his foray into midfield for Scotland’s 3-1 friendly victory over Australia - but he hopes he never has to play there during the upcoming World Cup campaign.
Caldwell captained the team at Easter Road in the absence of Darren Fletcher, who stepped up his fight against a bowel condition by playing for Manchester United in Neil Simpson’s testimonial at Pittodrie on Tuesday. With Celtic captain Scott Brown resting a hip injury, Caldwell also replaced Fletcher in the holding midfield role in the final warm-up before Scotland open their Brazil 2014 campaign against Serbia on 8 September.
Craig Levein’s experiment proved successful as Caldwell was comfortable on the ball and his awareness to cover allowed his team-mates to get forward and put Australia under pressure. Charlie Adam and Shaun Maloney were given licence to get forward from midfield and full-backs Alan Hutton and Danny Fox both pushed forward, with the latter setting up Scotland’s first two goals as they banished memories of their 5-1 defeat by the United States in May. Caldwell said: “I think I allowed the full-backs especially to bomb on and Foxy set up the first two goals with great deliveries into the box. Hutts got forward, first half especially, really well. I thought we passed the ball well, we were really up for the game and it was a good boost going into the qualifiers. It was a good exercise, I thought we started on the front foot and played very well for the whole night and deserved to win the game. We said after the game in the USA there were reasons for the performance and I think we’ve shown that, if we’re at it, we are a good side..”
Caldwell has established himself as centre-back for Wigan but the midfield position is not alien to the 30-year-old at domestic or international level. But when asked if he might play there at some point during the qualifying campaign, the former Hibs and Celtic player said: “I hope not. I hope the boys are back. We’ve got loads of good midfielders and unfortunately for this one we had a lot of call-offs in that area and the manager asked me to do a job. I’m happy to do it but hopefully we have got all the boys back for the next game.”
Caldwell was also delighted with the impact of goalscorer Jordan Rhodes, who levelled for Scotland at a crucial time.
“I thought he was great,” Caldwell said. “On your debut you are always excited and nervous, it’s a big moment in your career, and I thought he was excellent.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east