Scotland assistant Peter Houston praises squad unity

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Peter Houston
Houston is confident that players are behind Craig Levein's vision for Scotland

Scotland assistant manager Peter Houston insists players are buying into Craig Levein's ethos as the country aims for Euro 2012 qualification.

Only Alan Hutton and Steven Whittaker have so far pulled out of the squad for Wednesday's friendly with Denmark.

Houston sees that as an indication of increased desire to play for Scotland under the Levein regime.

"Too many times in the past players have called off easily. These players don't call off easily," he said.

Houston cited the friendly with Sweden a year ago as an example of a match that was afflicted by a plethora of withdrawals, something that became the norm under previous management set-ups.

But Houston says he would like to think Levein's approach has made a difference.

"The perfect example was today - Kris Commons turning up with a boot on his foot," he added.

"He took a stud on the instep of his foot and turned up today.

"We thought, when he turned up with that on, he'd be ruled out, but he told us he wants to give it until tomorrow, every chance.

"That tells a lot for a friendly match. They've bought into the way Craig wants to build a unity in the squad."

Wednesday's meeting with Denmark is the final friendly before the latest round of Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Scotland face the Czech Republic and Lithuania at Hampden in September, before travelling to take on Liechtenstein and Spain in October.

Houston believes victory in the next three qualifiers is within Scotland's capabilities, which would take them to the brink of finishing second and making the play-offs.

That is also a belief held by Gary Caldwell, who reckons beating the Czech Republic and Lithuania would put Scotland in a "great position".

"Still Liechtenstein showed that they're a decent side and we just managed to beat them at home, so that'll be a difficult game," added the Wigan defender.

At 29, Caldwell was asked if this campaign and the upcoming World Cup qualifiers perhaps represented his last chances to appear at a major tournament for his country.

"When you're nearing 30 you do start to think my opportunities are less and obviously the World Cup only comes every four years, so this is going to be a big one for myself," he said.

"It's coming at the peak of my career and it's one I think we've got a real opportunity with the team we've got and the group we've got, so hopefully this can be the time that I and the country can get there."

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