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Caldwell insists absences are ‘no excuse’ and admits criticism deserved

Published on Monday 28 May 2012 02:18

GARY Caldwell said that Scotland’s depleted squad was no excuse for the team’s poor performance in the 5-1 defeat by the United States in Florida on Saturday night.

Craig Levein was without 11 players for the friendly, including some influential names, but the Wigan defender said that the fringe members had enough experience and ability to have produced a better display.

“That’s not an excuse, the boys that came in have played a few games and done well in the past, deserved their place, so that’s not an excuse we’ll use,” Caldwell said.

Scotland do not have a chance to make amends until August’s friendly against Australia in Edinburgh, which precedes a pair of World Cup qualifiers at Hampden. “It’s a long summer now, we’ve got to live with that and take the criticism that we deserve and hopefully it’s a kick up the backside and we can come back in August ready for the qualifiers,” Caldwell said.

Scotland’s tricky-looking qualifying group includes Serbia, Croatia, Wales, Macedonia and Belgium. “We feel we’re progressing well under the manager, we have been putting in really good performances and getting some decent results. [Saturday’s] a step back but hopefully we can learn from it and push on from it. It wasn’t as good as it can be and we’ll have to all take that on the chin individually,” the defender added.

Carlos Bocanegra, the Rangers and United States defender, said that midfield mastery was the key to his team’s victory. “We had a really strong centre of the park … and there was a lot of space. It worked well for us,” he said. “The midfielders had a great game.”

The loss in the States was the heaviest since Levein took the reins in December, 2009. “Collectively we have to be better with the cohesion of the team, in the front, the middle and attack. It wasn’t there – we lost bad goals. It’s just a bad night,” Caldwell said. “In football you get them and the only way you can bounce back is by winning the next game. Unfortunately it doesn’t come for three months so it’s going to be a long summer after that.”

Levein had talked up the addition of Matt Phillips but the Blackpool winger had a quiet debut in Jacksonville. The pacy 21-year-old pledged his loyalty to Scotland having represented England at under-19 and under-20 level. He was called up by Levein to the squad that drew with Slovenia in a friendly last February but was forced to withdraw through injury.

“I don’t think I showed exactly what I can do but there’s more to come and hopefully I’ll get my chance to show it. There’s been a lot made of switching my allegiance but I’ve got a base now, I’ve made my debut and hopefully I can go on and put in some good performances in the games to come,” he said.

“It was a disappointing night for us. “They are a very good side but maybe we just didn’t give a good account of ourselves so we are disappointed. It was very hot and humid. We have been out here for seven days and it was tough. But we just have to look forward to the next game now.”

Linked with sides including Everton, Swansea City and Reading after Blackpool’s defeat by West Ham in the npower Championship play-off final this month, he is eager to return to the English top-flight having risen to prominence during the seaside club’s stint in the Barclays Premier League in 2010-11.

“At the moment I’m a Blackpool player and until something happens I can’t really comment,” he said. “It was a great experience to play in the Premier League so young and hopefully I’ll get back there.”

Taken from the Scotsman

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