McCulloch aims for career high

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The Independent Online

Lee McCulloch has already experienced one fairytale ascent in his career, with Wigan, and yesterday said he hopes that he can do the same at international level before time runs out. It took the 29-year-old Scotland midfielder four years from joining Wigan in 2001 in the third tier of English football to reach the Premiership in 2005.

With his country, his immediate goal is completing another four-year dream cycle, from being uncapped in 2004 to reaching Euro 2008. "It's been a big time in my career," said McCulloch, who moved from the JJB Stadium to Rangers in the summer. At club level, Champions League matches beckon. And with Scotland he is becoming a regular after sporadic outings since he won the first of his 11 caps in Berti Vogts' last game in charge. "It's fantastic to have everything to aim for and I just don't want it to slip away," he said. "To get to the Euro 2008 finals that would be a fantastic thing and it is just kicking in that we have a chance."

Scotland face Lithuania at Hampden tomorrow, then France next Wednesday. And while they remain fourth favourites to qualify from Group B – Italy and Ukraine are also involved – they are still in much better shape (third and in striking distance of the top) than anyone could have imagined at the outset of qualifying. "With the massive games coming up with Rangers as well, this is the time in my career when I really want to succeed," McCulloch said.

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