Fletcher not guaranteed to play

  • Last Updated: October 8 2012, 19:33 BST

Scotland assistant coach Peter Houston insists Steven Fletcher is not guaranteed to play in the World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Belgium.

Steven Fletcher trains with Scotland on Monday.

Steven Fletcher

9. Steven Fletcher

Title Number
Appearances 7 (2)
Goals 2
Assists 2
Yellows 1
Reds 0
*Current Season

Following a recent meeting with Craig Levein, the Sunderland striker, 25, ended his international exile which began in February 2011 when he informed the Scotland camp by text that he did not want to be considered for selection for a Carling Nations game against Northern Ireland.

Houston claimed there was "no resentment" within the squad to Fletcher's U-turn, a sentiment echoed by midfielders Scott Brown and Charlie Adam.

Speaking at Scotland's Mar Hall base on the outskirts of Glasgow, the Dundee United manager, ahead of Friday's game against Wales in Cardiff, was asked if there was now pressure to play Fletcher.

"Absolutely not," he replied. "Why would we feel pressure? It is a squad game.

"You pick a squad then you pick a team. You have two games coming up.

"I haven't spoken to the manager regards whether he is going to play or not.

"I think the biggest thing at this early stage is making sure everyone is fit.

"It might be that he is picked in two games, it might be that he is picked in one game, he might not be picked at all.

"It is something that has not been discussed.

"But to say there is pressure, then I would say no.

"What Steven and Craig has done has put all things in to the past and look forward.

"It is done and dusted and we have a team to pick for Friday and Tuesday and Steven Fletcher is included in that squad. Whether he plays or not, it is far too early to decide that.

"It won't be awkward if we play him or don't play him.

"He is here in the squad and is happy to be in the squad."

Houston dismissed any notions that there might be some players who will be disgruntled at the return of Fletcher, who has scored five times in five Premier League games for Sunderland.

"There will be no resentment," he said.

"This is a group of players and we will go with the best team we can get to try to win us a game.

"Steven has mixed in like he did the previous times.

"He has been welcomed back and it is nice to see him back.

"He is a top striker and we need every player we can to get good results so we are delighted he is here."

Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam also refuted the suggestion that Fletcher's return could inspire some resentment within the Scotland camp

"I don't think it does," the former Rangers, Blackpool and Liverpool player said.

"You want your best players available. He is one of our best players and it is good to see him back involved.

"What happened has happened, it's done and dusted. Let's move on.

"It's up to the manager if he plays but for us, it's good to have him in the squad because he adds to the quality that we already have.

"Whoever plays up front, as a pair or on their own, they will be trying to do the best for their country.

"We are all in the same boat - we want to get to Brazil and hopefully the quality that has come into the squad for these two games can enhance our chances."

Fletcher is rooming with former Hibernian team-mate Scott Brown, who was glad to see his old friend back in the international fold.

"It is brilliant," said the Celtic skipper, who will try to shrug off a hip complaint to be ready for Friday.

"He's a great guy and a good friend as well, so I am glad he is back.

"He is a good lad to have around, so we will accept him no problem.

"He didn't say a lot. He just said he is looking forward to getting the strip back on and getting back into training and pretty much forget about everything that has happened in the last couple of years."

Brown is confident Fletcher will be able to handle the pressure which will be on the Black Cats striker if he plays at the Cardiff City Stadium.

He said: "The focus will be on him but he scored five goals in his first five games in the Premier League for Sunderland so I don't think he has a lot to prove.

"He is a strong character, a great player and he is what we need.

"If we create chances, I'm sure he will finish them off, as will Kenny (Miller) as well.

"Whatever has happened in the past has happened.

"We are just looking forward and we need as many players fit and the best squad possible for Friday. That is the most important thing for the country."


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