Sheffield Wednesday: Owls duo primed for Scotland mission

Wednesday pair Steven Fletcher and Barry Bannan are in contention to be involved in Scotland's vital World Cup qualifier with Slovakia tomorrow night.

Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 7:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:03 pm
Steven Fletcher

Striker Fletcher and midfielder Bannan joined up with the Scots squad after the Owls’ outstanding 3-0 victory over Leeds United on Sunday.

Leigh Griffiths is expected to lead the line for Scotland, meaning Fletcher may have to settle for a place on the bench.

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But Scots boss Gordon Strachan has dropped a big hint Bannan could start in midfield at Hampden Park. Bannan has been capped 24 times by his country.

“You talk about Callum McGregor and John McGinn but the best performance I’ve seen over the last three or four weeks is Barry Bannan’s so he’s definitely at the forefront of what we’re trying to do,” said Strachan, who watched Bannan and Fletcher in action at Birmingham City last week.

Scotland must win their final two qualifiers to maintain their hopes of reaching next year’s finals in Russia.

Victories over both Slovakia and Slovenia this week would secure second spot in Group F and a likely two-legged play-off tie in November.

Strachan said: “Forget how big it is, it’s how exciting it is. And it’s really exciting. Forget the rest of the emotions, excitement takes over the whole thing.

“When you have a challenge, excitement comes along. It’s really exciting for me and really enjoyable taking on this challenge with the players.

“We try and start at the same level where we are all looking forward to joining up with each other. There’s always a good buzz when we meet, but obviously the buzz is higher if you have got those couple of wins under your belt.”

Slovakia are second in Group F, a point ahead of Slovenia and Scotland.

But Scotland head into the clash full of confidence and self-belief after picking up 10 points from their last four outings.

Strachan said: “We have to deal with must-win games over the last four, I think,” he said. “So we have dealt with that OK. We could only deal with that OK if we’ve got a good spirit and a good bit of camaraderie.

“We believed that we could come back in and play the way we have played in recent months.”