Playing Better Than Drinking

Shaun Maloney hopes he will be playing in instead of watching Scotland's EURO2012 qualifying games against the Czech Republic and Spain. The Celtic midfielder has started the season in fine form and has been rewarded by being recalled to the squad by Craig Levein after missing out on the double-header against Lithuania and Liechtenstein last month. Maloney was like many fans and watched the games in a pub with friends and was as relieved when his former Parkhead team mate Stephen McManus scored the winner against Liechtenstein at Hampden with a header in the seventh minute of injury time to take the Scots joint-top of their section with four points.

This time, the former Aston Villa is looking to play more than a supporting role. he said: "
I watched the games with friends in the pub. I just felt a massive relief, like everyone else, when big Mick (McManus) scored that header. It was a very tough night but in the end it was a very good result. I was hopeful the last time although when the squad was announced I wasn't surprised not to be included. When the internationals came round I was envious of the players who were playing. You want to be involved with your country in every game, but these two are pretty important. Obviously the Spain game sticks out and it's the sort of tie the fans and players are looking forward to. As a player you want to play against the world champions and hopefully it will be a good night. I just feel very fortunate to be back."

Maloney stressed the importance of getting at least a point in Prague on Friday night against a Czech side under pressure to bounce back after losing their opening game 1-0 at home to Lithuania. He said: "
If we get a good result against the Czech Republic then I am sure it will continue to help the confidence going into the Spain game. It could have the opposite effect if we were to lose - then it would knock the confidence. The Czech Republic game is the sort of game which will dictate where we finish in the group. It is a really important game for both teams. The home games will be really important in this group and it was a bit of a surprise result in the last Czech game. I know they had a few chances to win against Lithuania, so whether or not that was a fair result I don't know. Maybe not. But I have played against some of their players before and they are a very good side. You look at the players who play in the English league. They are all main players for their country, so we know it is going to be a very hard game."
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