Big Smith blow for Spireites

Captain Alex Baptiste believes Blackpool are now in a relegation

battle after their poor run of form.

Just one win from six games under recently-appointed manager

Paul Ince has seen the the Seasiders drop to 17th in the npower

Championship table, four points from the relegation places.

Top of the table in September, the Tangerines must now focus

their attentions towards the other end of the division and Baptiste

admits his team mates must be realistic about the threat of the

drop.

He told the Blackpool Gazette: “It’s a relegation battle we are

in now.

“We probably need a little bit more quality. We need to start

adding more goals to our game.

“We had a look at the table after the game and there are 11

teams involved down there.

“It’s all to play for in the next eight games.”

Much of the pre-match attention has focused on how Gordon

Strachan’s men can deal with the considerable threat posed by the

25-goal Tottenham forward when they take on Chris Coleman’s side at

Hampden on Friday night.

But Wigan defender Caldwell has already been part of a team that

has successfully snubbed out the 23-year-old after the Latics

escaped White Hart Lane with a surprise 1-0 win back in

November.

Ben Watson struck the only goal in that London victory for

Roberto Martinez’s side but Caldwell insists it was a cautious

team-wide approach that was key to keeping the lightning-quick Bale

quiet that day – and claims a similar set of tactics will be

necessary if Scotland are to do the same.

Asked if it was possible to halt the man who scored both Welsh

goals in their 2-1 win over the Scots last October, he said: “It

can be done. We went to White Hart Lane with Wigan this year and

won 1-0 and we stopped him as a team. That’s the key to it.

“He’s one of the best in the world when he gets players

one-on-one. But as a team, I think we can stop him.

“We have spoken about it as a team this week and gone into

detail about how we are going to do that and we will be ready for

him.”

The column inches generated on Bale have only increased with

news that illness and an ankle injury sustained in Spurs’ weekend

meeting with Fulham had prevented him from training for much of

this week.

But Caldwell insists that is a slight to the other players from

both sides who could yet play a major part.

He said: “It’s pretty disrespectful to the other players. You

look at Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen, Ashley Williams – Wales have got

top players playing at big clubs in the Premier League.

“Everyone goes on about Bale and rightly so, because he is one

of the best players in the world. But we have got players,

especially at the top end of the pitch, who can really hurt

teams.”

Caldwell links up with Strachan once more for the manager’s

first competitive match following on from their time together with

Celtic.

The new boss faces a major challenge if he is to reach the World

Cup in Brazil, with the Group A table ominously placing Scotland

rock bottom and without a win after four games.

That was the mess left for him by predecessor Craig Levein, a

state of affairs which prompted former Wales winger Mickey Thomas

to label the current tartan crop the worst in Scotland’s

history.

Captain Caldwell, though, was not interested in those comments,

saying: “I’ve been part of a few ‘worst Scotland team ever’

headlines in the past, so that doesn’t bother me.

“Friday night will be the judge of how good a team we are and

how much we have progressed.”

The 26-year-old suffered the injury during the first half of the

Spireites’ away win at Oxford last weekend and missed the defeat at

Torquay on Tuesday night while the club’s medical staff ascertained

the extent of the problem.

Scans have shown that the left-back has broken a bone at the top

of his foot.

Cook said: “There’s damage to the bone and with so few matches

remaining that means he won’t play again (this season), which is a

big blow.”

Meanwhile, midfielder Craig Clay has resumed training following

a hernia operation last month.

“He has joined in today (Thursday), and when I say joined in I

mean as a first step towards a return to full fitness,” said

Cook.

“He won’t be involved at the weekend but maybe he has a chance

of being included over the Bank Holiday weekend against Burton and

Port Vale.”