Fletcher In And Out Of Scotland Squad
There seems to be a difference of opinion on when to play for Scotland between the namesakes Scotland manager Craig Levein has been able to call up Darren Fletcher to his squad for the games against the Czech Republic and Lithuania. Fletcher had been missing from national squads in 2011 after being struck down by a virus in the spring, which caused sudden weight loss, and Levein admitted earlier this month he would need to make "exceptional" progress to make the Hampden double-header. However, the exceptional appears to have happened in time for Scotland to have the Manchester United midfielder back ready for national service. Despite playing 90 minutes against Blackpool in United's final league game of last season and making the substitutes' bench for the Champions League final, Fletcher suffered a relapse in the summer and missed his club's pre-season tour of the United States. He has since played two full reserve games against Arsenal and Swansea this week and this morning Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed the midfielder would be in his squad to face Arsenal on Sunday. Celtic winger Kris Commons, who was ruled out of the friendly win over Denmark earlier this month with a foot injury but has since returned to club action, does not make the 25-man squad. Levein says Fletcher is 100% fit and ready to be involved in both matches. On his captain's return, he said: "I'm thrilled. He's arguably our best player and a perfect role model and example to the rest of the guys in the squad. I will also give a special mention to Kenny Miller for his role as captain, both on and off the field, when Darren hasn't been there, he has been fantastic. Darren is 100%. I spoke to him on Monday night. He played 90 minutes of a reserve game the previous week and he played 90 minutes last night. I had someone at the game and he is looking great and he is telling me this is the best he has felt for almost a year. I'm delighted to have him back and the way I'm looking at it is that he will be fit to play in both matches."Levein cited a loss of form was the reason behind Commons, who missed a penalty in Celtic's 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Sunday, not being named this time around. And Levein also indicated that Rangers full-back Lee Wallace would not have been involved either even if he had not picked up an injury in last night's Europa League game against Maribor. The Scotland manager said: "I just feel that Kris hasn't really hit the ground running at the start of this season. When you look at him last season and the form that he was in, I just don't think he is anywhere near the same kind of form. For some reason, he hasn't started this season particularly well. He's kind of in the same bracket as Lee Wallace, who hasn't quite hit the ground running at Rangers." Alan Hutton is included despite not featuring for Tottenham this season amid knee problems. The right-back pulled out of the squad that beat Denmark 2-1 at Hampden for the same reason. Levein will be keen for the former Rangers player to make the game against play-off rivals Czech Republic as Ibrox full-back Steven Whittaker is suspended for that encounter. Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon is again missing as he recovers from knee surgery while Cardiff midfielder Don Cowie has kept his place after featuring against the Danes following a late call-up. Levein also confirmed there was no change in Steven Fletcher's situation. The in-form Wolves striker has not been involved since he indicated he did not want to be selected Scotand's Carling Nations Cup game against Northern Ireland in February. Levein said: "Steven Fletcher is a fantastic player and I would never say anything other than that. But until he indicates that he wants to play for Scotland, he won't be selected. It's simple."Scotland lie third in Group I, level on points with Lithuania and five behind the second-placed Czechs but with a game in hand on both. They face trips to Liechtenstein and runaway leaders Spain in October in their final games.
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