Levein defends squad selection
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Craig Levein argued the Scotland squad was youthful enough to avoid the need for major change after he selected just two uncapped players for his managerial debut against the Czech Republic.

Dundee United defenders Paul Dixon and Garry Kenneth are the only players in line to make their international debuts at Hampden next Wednesday. Levein handed recalls to thirtysomethings Paul Hartley, Lee McCulloch and Chris Iwelumo, whose Scotland careers had looked over under previous manager George Burley.

Levein said: "If you look through, there are six players aged 30 or over, which isn't a lot out of 24. We've got what I consider a great band of players in that middle age group between 24 and 28.

"I don't consider it to be overly full of ageing players or experienced players, however you want to put it. The squad I have picked, and there are one or two exceptions, is the best squad available for this game coming up. There aren't hundreds of players out there who are going to improve the squad dramatically."

I don't consider it to be overly full of ageing players or experienced players. The squad I have picked, and there are one or two exceptions, is the best squad available for this game coming up.
Scotland manager Craig Levein

Dixon, 23, will fight Lee Wallace for a left-back position that is up for grabs amid the long-term absence of Sheffield United's Gary Naysmith. But Levein did allow himself some experimentation with a first call-up for 22-year-old Kenneth, who comes in at the expense of one-time captain Stephen McManus. "Winning this game is important to me," Levein said. "It will be extremely difficult but it's an important part of the process.

"At the same time, I feel that we don't have half a dozen centre-backs who have the quality to play every single match for Scotland. So we need to find a partnership or even just an individual who can come through and be the backbone of the team."

Levein warned against over-optimism at the start of his new era. But Wigan centre-back Gary Caldwell is sure Scotland can mount a strong challenge against the Czechs for second place in their qualifying group for UEFA EURO 2012.

"We've got the draw pinned up in the canteen and a few of us were talking about how tough it looks," Caldwell told Wigan's official programme. "Being a typical Scotsman, I think it looks easy!

"We have a new manager and it is an exciting time for Scotland. We believe as a country, if we can get it right and are hard to beat, then we can match the best on the world. Spain are obviously going to be favourites but we firmly believe that second place is up for grabs and that we can get it."