Forget Brazil and the Spanish . . clash with Auld Enemy is top of Whittaker's wish list

He's faced World Cup holders Spain and taken on the might of Brazil, but today Steven Whittaker admitted he'd love a crack at England.

Only the English will be missing as the Carling Nations Cup comes to a conclusion in Dublin over the next few days with Craig Levein's squad, 3-0 winners over Northern Ireland in their first match, up against Wales tomorrow night before meeting the Republic of Ireland on Sunday.

Whether England see fit to involve themselves in future should the tournament be deemed a success without them remains to be seen, but Whittaker insisted the prospect of battling it out with the Auld Enemy excited him as much as any member of the Tartan Army.

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He said: "You always hear of previous games against them, the goals people have scored and it would be great to be involved in one like that. I don't think any of us in this squad has played against England but like Brazil at the Emirates it would be a glamour fixture and as a player it's these big games, the cup finals, the ones everyone talks about that you want to play in."

There have, of course, been tentative proposals to restore the Scotland v England fixture, lost with the demise of the Home Championships, on a regular basis but whether that should ever prove to be the case, or even as a one-off, former Hibs star Whittaker insisted he'd be up for it.

He said: "It's not for me to decide but these are the type of fixtures you want to play in and if it came along I'm sure we'd all look forward to it."

In the meantime, Whittaker and the rest of Levein's squad have the double-header in Dublin, matches which, along with August's friendly against Denmark at Hampden, the Rangers defender insisted will be vital to Scotland's preparations for their forthcoming Euro Championship qualifying clashes with the Czech Republic and Liechtenstein in Glasgow.

Pointing out that almost a year will have elapsed since the Scots almost stunned Spain, battling back from two goals down to draw level only for Spanish substitute Fernando Llorente to claim a late winner before Whittaker himself was sent off, the 26-year-old said: "We need good performances going into our next two qualifying games. There'll have been a long break between the last one and the Czechs coming to Hampden, almost a year, so we need these games. It's also given the manager the chance to bring in some new players."

Although he's only won ten caps to date, Whittaker has already become something of a stalwart in the dark blue of his country, admitting that he now feels far more comfortable in the surroundings of the international set-up.

He said: "There's a lot of my team-mates and boys I knew from when I was at Hibs but having been in the squad a lot you get to know the rest of the boys. I feel more comfortable being part of it but I also still feel I am quite new to it."

To that end there was little chance of Whittaker pleading the exertions of another long, hard season as an excuse not to board today's flight for the Irish capital. Well tanned after a week in Portugal following Rangers' clinching of the SPL title on the final day of the season, Whittaker said: "I've always known these games were coming along so it was a case of being prepared.

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"You don't lose much fitness in the space of a week but I kept my body ticking over, I hit the gym in the mornings and had a couple of runs along the beach. I'm back for these two games and then I can switch off."