ROBERTO MARTINEZ has claimed Swansea City will pull out all the stops to ensure Jason Scotland is available for their crunch clash with high-flying Birmingham tomorrow.
Scotland was in the Caribbean for the Soca Warriors World Cup qualifier against Cuba at 1am this morning. He then boarded a flight back to the UK and is expected to join the rest of the Swans squad for a training session at 6.30pm tonight.
Should he come through that session, Scotland could be in line to start against Alex McLeish’s promotion chasers at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow night. But, after an eight-and-a-half hour flight and with a four-hour time difference to compensate for, that could be easier said than done.
Considering the striker’s form of late, Martinez was understandably keen to have Scotland involved. And, taking the player’s own wishes into account, he said the 29-year-old would be given every chance to make the starting XI to face the Blues.
But, with the visitors currently second in the table, the Swans boss claimed it would be a grave mistake to play anyone who isn’t fully fit. And, if Scotland’s international exploits have taken any kind of toll on his body, he may, at best, have to settle for a place on the bench.
“We will do everything we can to get Jason on the pitch,” Martinez said. “But he needs to be 100%.
“The last thing we want is to have people on the pitch that aren’t 100%. We can’t afford to do that because it wouldn’t be good enough against a team like Birmingham.
“But, with the form Jason is in right now, it’s important he plays as many minutes as possible right now. That’s something we have to assess and just hope he makes it.”
He continued: “Jason always wants to play. He is one of those people that gives you the impression he doesn’t always care, but is really a natural winner that wants to be involved in every single game.
“That’s a great attribute to have. He never misses training or games after internationals which shows you how fit he is and also that he takes his responsibility at this club very seriously.”
After an inconsistent start to the season following a summer stomach injury, Scotland has certainly been getting back to his best in recent weeks. And, after two goals in his last two league games, Martinez was confident last season’s top scorer was hitting top gear before he went away.
The Spaniard is hoping the striker’s momentum won’t be disrupted by his trip to the Caribbean. And, if everything goes to plan, he sees no reason why both club and country can benefit from his international duty.
“Jason is in great form and it’s important he is ready for us,” he said. “When he gets back we will assess him, see how he is and hopefully let him enjoy his football like he has been in recent weeks.
“His performance at Norwich last week was very special. And, when Jason is in that sort of mood, it makes the difference at this level.”
He continued: “The flights do take a lot out of people, especially someone who has three important games in a short period of time. It’s a huge demand and, with the way we play, you can’t get away with a half-hearted performance.
“But, on the other side, if he gets a good result and plays well, he can bring that confidence to Swansea City.
“So there are always two ways to look at it and, so long as he doesn’t get an injury, I will be very happy.”