Darren Fletcher must play against England says Joe Jordan
A place must be found for Darren Fletcher in the Scotland side to face England on Saturday, according to Joe Jordan.
The 55-times capped striker, who starred for his country in a golden period of World Cup qualification that began in 1973, believes performing under pressure will be crucial if Gordon Strachan’s side are to pull off an upset at Hampden this weekend.
And the pedigree of Fletcher, who moved from West Bromich Albion to Stoke City last week, makes him a must for the latest iteration of a famous fixture in the mind of Jordan.
Fletcher did not feature as Scotland secured a win over Slovenia in March to prevent their flickering hopes of reaching the play-off for the Russia 2018 finals being fully extinguished. His then West Brom team-mate James Morrison and Scott Brown were preferred in the deep-lying midfield roles in Strachan’s favoured 4-2-3-1 configuration.
Morrison has started sporadically for his club since, as have James McArthur and Robert Snodgrass. That fact leaves Fletcher as the only Scottish first-pick in the English Premier League.
The 33-year-old has not missed an English top flight league game in two and a half years. This proof of the ex-Manchester United man’s ability to mix it with the best gives fellow former Red Devil Jordan enough reason to insist Fletcher should earn his 79th cap in three days’ time as.
Jordan said: “I look at him and I would put faith in him. That’s the sort of player I want in that game.
“I look at the players and I know what they can do as players, it’s about what they are able to do as a man under pressure. He’s played against every one of them and not given them an inch. He won’t care he’s up against a particular name, and I don’t think you should.
“You take it on as a challenge. The goal is to go and play in a World Cup. I went as a young lad [after ending the country’s 16-year gap with qualification in 1973] and I knew the importance of qualifying when I could see what it meant to [Billy] Bremner, [Peter] Lorimer and Jimmy Johnstone.
“They hadn’t achieved it and it was their last chance to go and play against the best. They had the belief and they knew they were as good as them but it’s about showing that on the big stage, which for me is the World Cup. For me it was Munich, these guys have to take it on board and go. They have to earn it.
“That’s why there is huge pressure on both camps. I look at the players – even young players – and ask if they can handle the circumstances. There are no qualms when it comes to Darren Fletcher because he’s been there and done it [at club level].
“I’ve seen what he has done. He did exactly what Tony Pulis wanted him to do at West Brom. He brought a belief and he carries with him what he’s earned in his career. He left Manchester United to play games and that’s exactly what he’s done. Whether you’re at his stage of your career or a young player, you want to be playing games.
“It don’t see it as a case of deserving to get there. I am just looking at players I would rely on. I know Darren as a football player. I know what he can do and what I would want from him to contribute in the game.
“I know Darren could handle the occasion. There is no question he can do that.”