Sheffield Wednesday: Steven Fletcher's hopes of a Scotland recall receive a big boost

Steven Fletcher's hopes of an international recall have been boosted by the news that Steven Naismith will miss Scotland's two Nations League matches against Albania and Israel next month.

Tuesday, 30th October 2018, 1:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th October 2018, 1:53 pm
Steven Fletcher netted in Sheffield Wednesday's loss at Birmingham City last weekend

In-form Hearts centre-forward Naismith was forced out of Sunday's League Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic due to a knee injury.

A scan revealed Naismith, who has notched 11 goals in 16 outings for the Scottish Premiership leaders this term, suffered a slight tear in his knee cartilage, which will require surgery and could mean six to eight weeks out.

Steven Fletcher netted in Sheffield Wednesday's loss at Birmingham City last weekend

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"We've had a number of blows in the last three or four weeks so we will just have to cope with this one as well as we have done with the other ones," admitted Hearts boss Craig Levein.

Under-fire Scotland boss Alex McLeish could also be without the services of Leigh Griffiths. The Celtic forward has not played since the 6-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on October 7 because of a calf problem.

Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic boss, said: "I'm not sure at this moment (with Griffiths), we just take it day by day. It's a blow, Steven Naismith being out for Scotland and for Hearts but we just need to assess that.

Fletcher has not played for Scotland for over a year

"There is not a lot of time, that's the only thing I would say. Certainly if Leigh was available he would be nowhere near match fit but we will see over the next few weeks where he is at."

It was just a fortnight ago that McLeish hinted he could turn to Sheffield Wednesday striker Fletcher, who netted in the Owls' 3-1 loss to Birmingham City last weekend, for their key Nations League double header against Albania and Israel.

"There is a place for more experienced players," said McLeish. "Most of the guys who Gordon (former Scotland boss Strachan) had haven't been playing in the last six months.

"We've had to call up a lot of young players. Oli McBurnie came in from the under-21s and he's still a work inprogress. We're not exactly prolific.

"But Steven Fletcher is now coming back into the scene at Sheffield and we'll look at that one with a bit of interest.

"I've got to keep encouraging the guys. But I love having guys with a bit of nous and experience who can help the team. I know what a difference that makes."

Twelve months have passed since Fletcher won the last of his 31 Scotland caps when he came on as a substitute in their final World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

The Scots are currently second in League C Group 1 of the Nations League, having accrued three points from two fixtures. They travel to face Albania on November 17 before hosting Israel at Hampden Park on November 20.