A “fit and strong” Steven Fletcher has clarified his omission from the Scotland squad, blaming a combination of Kazakhstan’s plastic pitch and doctor’s advice over a long-standing knee problem.
The on-form Sheffield Wednesday striker was surprisingly left out of Alex McLeish’s selection for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with Kazakhstan and San Marino this week.
Having been instrumental in the Scots’ success in the UEFA Nations League, the absence of the former Hibs marksman, on top of Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths and Hearts’ Steven Naismith, has left the country short of options in attack.
Coach James McFadden insisted Fletcher had been ‘managing’ knee and ankle injuries, with the 31-year-old also sustaining a groin problem in scoring his fifth goal in six games as he made his 100th outing for Wednesday at the weekend.
However, the player himself has insisted the artificial surface for tomorrow’s match in the Astana Arena is the main reason for him not travelling. Fletcher, pictured, said: “I definitely feel fit, I feel strong and when you feel like that going into a game it’s always a bonus. You feel good about yourself. I think being injury free helps that.
“It’s been highlighted that the game in Kazakhstan is on an artificial pitch and, with the knee injury I picked up, I had it for a long time and I can’t take a chance on aggravating it again.
“Especially with the way I am feeling right now, it would just put me back to square one again. On doctor’s advice, and kind of personal advice, I thought it would be best to leave it.
“I wish the lads all the best and hopefully they can go over there and get the points we need.”
Meanwhile, Fletcher has revealed he has been helping off the pitch to prepare Wednesday team-mate Liam Palmer for his maiden Scotland call-up.
The under-21 cap was born in Nottinghamshire and qualifies through a late grandmother from South Lanarkshire.
Fletcher added to the Sheffield Star: “I’ve been pushing for Palms to get in for a long time because he’s been brilliant.
“I think people kind of forgot that he played for Scotland so it’s great for him and it’s great for the country as well to see what he’s about because he’s been brilliant for us.
“I’ve been giving him a couple of Irn Brus.”