Cherries: Fletch biding his time for a start role
CHERRIES' newly-appointed club captain Steve Fletcher has reassured fans that his body is still very much up to the task this season and beyond. The popular frontman, who was this week handed the ambassadorial role by boss Eddie Howe in a new year captaincy shake-up, has seen his starting opportunities limited in recent weeks. With Alan Connell and Jeff Goulding given the chance to impress alongside star striker Brett Pitman, Fletcher has had to be patient. Despite featuring on an impressive 26 occasions this term, Fletcher's 60-minute substitute appearance against Northampton last weekend was his 10th off the bench in the past 11 matches. However, the influential 37-year-old insists he is fit and healthy, and ready for the challenge of starting when selected. Cherries' record appearance-maker told the Echo: I always hear things and read things that Fletch can't start', but I'm fit to start. I've been coming on for 45 minutes on a few occasions and it's just one of those things. Eddie wants to play a certain system and unfortunately if I have to be left out, then I have to be left out. But I understand and he talks to me about it. I've got to bide my time and when I get a chance I've got to take it, the same as everybody else. Nobody in our squad has got a guaranteed spot and I think that's a good thing. But fitness wise, I'm as fit as I've been. Everyone gets little injuries, but my back problem last week was the first little injury I've had since I missed a couple of games earlier in the season with my hamstring. It's half way through the season and I feel just as good as I did at the beginning of the season, last season and a few seasons before that. While he is hoping to continue his illustrious career for at least another campaign after this one, Fletcher's primary focus remains on helping Cherries secure promotion this season. He said: While things are okay and I feel okay myself, then you've got to have an eye on it. But the most important thing at the moment is us staying in the top three. Fletcher, who described being appointed club captain as a great honour, added: I want to play as long as I can, if I didn't, at 37, I'd have retired way before now. I don't think I've changed much over the years and I want to keep playing. I've got as much passion to play now as I've ever had. Meanwhile, chairman Eddie Mitchell yesterday dismissed speculation linking Brett Pitman with Cardiff City after internet rumours had suggested that the Championship club were poised to move for Cherries' top scorer.
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