Five goals in his past five club games is likely to mean Fletcher leading the attack in Cardiff following his international recall by manager Craig Levein.
The 25-year-old was named Barclay’s Premier League Player of the Month for September in recognition of his scoring feats since joining Sunderland from Wolverhampton Wanderers in a £14 million deal. That move made him the most expensive Scottish footballer in history and placed Levein under mounting pressure to repair his fractured relationship with the former Hibs striker.
Scotland face Wales and Belgium over the next five days in two vital World Cup qualifiers and, after being reinstated to the squad, Fletcher is poised to start tomorrow. Peter Houston, Levein’s assistant, stressed that Fletcher’s return does not add to the manager’s dilemma with the experienced Kenny Miller also vying for the striking berth.
“I don’t think it gives Craig an added problem,” said Houston today. “The great teams in the world mostly play with one striker. I don’t see many teams who play with two strikers nowadays. If it’s one striker, the problem Craig has is a good problem. We have Steven Fletcher, a guy who has scored five goals in five games in the English Premier League. That is one of the best leagues in the world and he’s scoring for a team which isn’t regarded as one of the top six. He’s playing for a ‘provincial’ club, if that’s the right word to use.
“I always think it must be harder for strikers to score regularly for a club that doesn’t create as many chances as Man United, Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea. It shows the confidence Craig has that he’s brought Steven back in and he’s scoring goals in a tough league. If it brings him another problem, it’s a good problem. Craig has to try and make the right decision on who he thinks is best to start the match.
“Having Steven back is great. He has fitted back in and is having plenty of banter with the boys as expected. Scotty Brown locked him out the room the other day. Probably the punishment he’s got from us is that we roomed him with Broony.”