Scotland manager defends exclusion of Sunderland’s Fletcher

Steven Fletcher'Sunderland AFC v Morecambe FC'League Cup 2nd round'Stadium of Light
Steven Fletcher'Sunderland AFC v Morecambe FC'League Cup 2nd round'Stadium of Light

SCOTLAND boss Craig Levein has defended the continued exclusion of Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher from the international scene.

Levein and Fletcher suffered a fall-out after the then Wolves striker was left out of Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Spain in October 2010.

Fletcher then pulled out of Scotland’s Carling Cup clash with Northern Ireland last year after sending a text message to one of Levein’s backroom staff to say he wasn’t available.

The 25-year-old has not been included in a Scotland squad since, with Levein closing the door completely on the striker during the summer.

But after notching a double on his Premier League debut for Sunderland last weekend, the issue of the £12million frontman has again been raised.

Levein pre-empted any questioning over Fletcher yesterday when he took to radio station Talksport to clarify the situation ahead of Saturday’s friendly with Serbia.

“He indicated to me that he didn’t want to play international football and he has done nothing to say otherwise since,” said Levein.

“I’ve left the door open for a year – he made no attempt to get back into the squad.

“So I thought for the sake of the players, that there was no point in me, every time we have a press conference, going over and over the same thing.”

The fall-out over Fletcher has been softened by the emergence on the international scene of Blackburn’s £8m acquisition Jordan Rhodes.

And with QPR’s Jamie Mackie Levein insists he is well-served up front.

“Jordan has appeared on the scene and he gets a big move to Blackburn,” said Levein.

“We’ve got Ross McCormack banging in goals. Jamie Mackie is another one playing regularly in the Premiership so we are starting to look a bit better in that area.

“Jordan scored on his debut, his starting debut, which is a dream for anyone. Of course, Steven Naismith can play through the middle, too. We’re very, very lucky in those attacking areas.”