sport

Caldwell closes on landmark cap

Gary Caldwell takes another proud step towards a coveted 50th cap when he leads out Scotland for the first time in the friendly with Slovenia.

With Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher absent through illness and Cardiff striker Kenny Miller starting on the bench, the 29-year-old Wigan defender will be captain in his 47th appearance in dark blue.

Few have been more passionate about playing for their country than the former Celtic player and he admits he is counting down the games until the magic half-century.

"50 caps would mean a lot," Caldwell said. "As a young boy you get your first cap and it is a huge honour and a big achievement, but you never dream of getting 50.

"The closer you get to it obviously it is closer to your mind that you really want to achieve it and put yourself among the great players of Scottish football.

"It is something I would be really proud of and hopefully I can get there soon

"Once you get nearer that number, the big one, you don't want to jinx it that so you take it one game at a time.

"I have had a few injuries in recent years that have forced me to miss games. But every time I see my name in the squad I am proud of that and I look forward to playing for my country.

"Looking back over my career, some of the big occasions and some of the big games I have been part of have been Scotland games and it is something I want to do as long as I possibly can.

"As long as I am being picked then I want to come way and be successful with Scotland."

Caldwell admits his passion for Scotland has not always been shared by team-mates in the past.

Asked if he had been in squads where he believed players could take or leave international caps, he said: "I have, yes. You always see that and I think that it happens at every country.

"But when we have the manager we have now (Craig Levein) who is passionate about it, and who has the spirit together, I think everyone who is part of it now is 100 per cent committed to Scotland.

"I think that is the only way we are going to be successful."