Sheffield United: Have Scotland even bothered to watch John Fleck? It appears not

Chris Wilder has already championed his case. Steven Pressley, capped 32 times by his country, did likewise.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 15th November 2018, 2:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th November 2018, 2:54 pm
John Fleck takes charge of the midfield during Sheffield United's game against Sheffield Wednesday: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
John Fleck takes charge of the midfield during Sheffield United's game against Sheffield Wednesday: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

And now a leading newspaper north of the border is preparing to join the campaign after asking, following yet another snub, what must John Fleck do to gain international recognition?

It is certainly a question worth considering following the midfielder's latest snub. Despite a raft of withdrawals, including midfielders Kevin McDonald and Ryan Jack, from Alex McLeish's squad for the UEFA Nations League tie against Albania and Israel. Another, John McGinn, was last night reportedly on the verge of missing the flight to Shkodër.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish

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Claiming that the Scottish Football Association have failed to even watch Fleck in action for Sheffield United this term, The Daily Record compared his situation to the one which saw John McGovern, a two-time European champion with Nottingham Forest, fail to achieve Scotland recognition.

"Maybe I wasn't capped because of some great players," McGovern told one of its journalists. "I prefer that to the rumour Ally (McLeod) didn't think I was Scottish."

Wilder and Fleck diplomatically side-stepped the issue when it was recently raised in one of United's weekly media briefings. But privately, given the player's contribution to the club's performances over the past two seasons-and-a-half, it is likely to be a source of frustration for both. Particularly given the 27-year-old recorded more assists last term than Jack and McDonald combined.

"John is doing well and he's important to us," Wilder said at the time. "That's what he's got to keep on doing. If he continues playing well then I'm sure his chance will come."

Former Scotland manager Gordon Strachan

Where Wilder's argument falls down, however, is the fact Fleck has been at the top of his game since moving to United 28 months ago. A pivotal member of the squad which powered out of League One following his arrival from Coventry City, Championship football should have been the springboard the Glaswegian required to catapult him into Scotland's side. Instead, first Gordon Strachan and now McLeish have seemingly decided there are better options available. Results - Scotland are second in League C Group One - would appear to suggest otherwise.

Pressley, Fleck's manager at the Ricoh Arena, was the first to highlight his international potential four years ago when Strachan attended one of City's matches.

"In the game he saw against Wolverhampton he was very impressed with John," Pressley, most recently of Pafos, said. "I think he will monitor his position and, if he continues to develop, then hopefully he'll become a consideration for him next year. He's certainly capable."

Rather than travelling to Europe, Fleck seems destined to spend the weekend in South Yorkshire preparing for United's visit to Rotherham next weekend.With Kieron Freeman, Enda Stevens, John Egan and Dean Henderson all away with their respective countries, the amount of work Wilder can do is limited. But he remains convinced the benefits of losing players during the build-up outweight any disadvantages.

John Fleck in action for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"The experiences they get makes these lads even better," he said. "Not only confidence-wise but also because of the knowledge they get."