CRAIG GORDON could be the difference from glorious failure and World Cup glory against Slovakia according to Steven Whittaker.

The former Rangers defender has been stunned at the longevity of the Celtic shot stopper who at 34-years-old is at the peak of his powers.

Only a few years ago Gordon's professional career looked in jeopardy as a knee injury looked to cut his ambitions short.

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But as he now hits 50 caps for his country, Whittaker has no doubt at the impact the veteran shot stopper can make.

He said: "Without a doubt he can make a big difference.

"Everyone is important in their own right. You all have a job to do and when that last line is breached you have to rely on your goalkeeper and Craig has come up with the goods on numerous occasions.

"Goalies tend to go on a bit longer, they don’t have to run around so much but he’s shown his level of consistency and performance is still up there and sure he will continue for some time yet."

Whittaker has first hand experience of just how prolific the former Hearts man can be.

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In Saturday's 2-2 draw at Parkhead between Celtic and Hibs, Whittaker thought he'd found the back of the net at point-blank range to halt the Hoops' 57 domestic unbeaten run.

However, he didn't bank on Gordon flying in from nowhere to get down low and spectacularly claw the ball over the bar to safety.

It was enough to keep Celtic's incredible run going for another week, and it's that kind of form which gives Whittaker great hope for not just Thursday night but also Sunday's trip to Slovenia as Scotland's World Cup qualification campaign hangs in the balance.

The 33-year-old said: "The ball came to me fast but I thought I had scored, all I had to do was turn it goalwards. I was practically away celebrating!

"I connected with it well, I didn’t even see Craig. I thought I had scored, it had come to me and I’t turned it goalwards.

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"In hindsight I think I am only three yards out, I’ve watched it back and I still don’t know how I scored. He’s come from nowhere, he had no right to get there.

"It would have been a nice moment to score and put team 2-1 up but it was a great save.

"Craig has made some fantastic saves over the years for both club and country.

"I’ve had a chat with him. I asked him after the game how he had saved that and he said he didn’t even know it was me. But he told me he just had to get across to it and managed to get a hand to the ball.

"Saves like that can win games as much as strikers scoring at times."