Scotland coach James McFadden insists Steven Fletcher was left out of the squad because he still has ongoing fitness issues, even though the striker scored for Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.
National manager Alex McLeish cited injury as the reason for overlooking the 31-year-old for the forthcoming opening Euro qualifying clashes in Kazakhstan and San Marino.
Only hours later, the former Hibs, Burnley and Wolves forward, who started last November’s Uefa Nations League wins over Albania and Israel – scoring against the former – notched the opening goal and played 84 minutes of the victory at Bolton in the Championship.
Fletcher underwent knee surgery to mend a long-standing problem last season and spent eight months on the sidelines before returning in August 2018 and McFadden says the player is still being carefully managed by his club.
“He did score [on Tuesday] but he has ongoing injury issues that he and the club feel need to be addressed during the international break,” McFadden said. “He is managing an injury and they feel there will be some sort of treatment for him during the international break.
“He’s not long back from being out for eight months and he’s not long back from having an operation on the same leg and knee.”
Scotland’s first Group I clash against Kazakhstan next Thursday is on a plastic surface at the Astana Arena and McFadden believes the pitch would also have been a concern to the player.
“The plastic pitch wouldn’t have helped. When players move down south they are not used to plastic pitches but up here they have to play and train on them,” the coach added.
“It could be a factor but the fact is that he needs treatment.”
Scotland are due to play San Marino away three days later on a grass pitch but Fletcher will not be considered for that match either.
Despite the absence of Fletcher and goalkeeper Allan McGregor’s decision to retire from international football, McFadden is still hopeful of making a flawless start to the qualifying campaign.
“It’s a tough place to go, Kazakhstan, taking into account the travel, the conditions, it’s a plastic pitch – no-one likes to play on it, but we have to start the campaign well.
“The aim is to get six points and start the campaign well.”