Craig Gordon acknowledges that he does not envy Scotland manager George Burley having to decide his replacement for the crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Norway. The Sunderland goalkeeper was ruled out of the trip to Oslo for Wednesday's match as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.

With regular back-up Allan McGregor no longer considered for selection for the national team following his part in the infamous ‘Boozegate' affair, Burley is set to turn to McGregor's Rangers team-mate Neil Alexander or Cardiff No1 David Marshall. Gordon knows both men well and admits he would struggle to decide who to hand the gloves to if forced to choose between the two.

"It really is a tough call and that's why the manager gets paid to make those decisions," he said. "I can't single one out and I wouldn't want to, that's a very difficult decision. But whoever plays, I'm sure they will do fine. We will be in safe hands regardless of who plays.

"They are both top quality keepers and have been around and got a bit of experience now," said Gordon. "There are absolutely no worries there, whoever gets the nod will go in and do a good job.

I can't single one out and I wouldn't want to, that's a very difficult decision.

Craig Gordon on the goalkeeper choice facing Scotland manager George Burley

"I share a room with David every time we are away and Neil went to the same high school as I did so I know them both very well. It's going to be a difficult decision, but I wish whoever plays all the best.

"I will probably speak to both the guys during the week and will definitely send them a text to wish them all the best," said Gordon. "I just hope whoever goes in does well and contributes to a winning performance."

September duels
Gordon is nonetheless hoping to reclaim the gloves for the double-header against Macedonia and Holland in September and is confident he will be back in peak condition by then.

"I would think so," he said. "I'm not feeling any pain in the knee now, so it's just a case of building the strength back up.

"I've not done anything for three months now so I have to make sure I'm taking things slowly and make sure the knee is 100 per cent right before I kick on and start playing in games," said Gordon.

Scotland head into the match with Norway second in Group Nine and knowing they have to remain there to have any hope of qualifying for South Africa 2010 through the play-offs. And Gordon sees no reason why Burley's men cannot return from Oslo with the three points that will keep the dream alive.

"I'm sure we will look to defend very well and hit on the break and we've got players who can do that," he said. "We have proven in the past that wherever we go we can be a threat and we can score goals.

"As long as we get the defensive side of things right and keep things tight, then we will have a great chance."

Tynecastle return
Gordon was back at Tynecastle at the weekend as Sunderland drew 1-1 with former club Hearts, but was denied a taste of the action after the club physio deemed a cameo appearance too risky.

"It would have been nice to play," he said. "It's always nice to come back here and see everybody behind the scenes who I grew up with in my time here.

"It would have been good even just to get five or ten minutes at the end, but it wasn't to be. It's not quite at that stage yet. I was out training before the warm-up and went through a really good session.

"The manager was almost tempted to give me ten minutes at the end, but the physio was against it and he has to make sure everything is absolutely right before I start playing games," said Gordon. "It's been a progression over the last few days and I was almost getting up to full speed there, which is nice for me personally to feel that things are getting back to normal."