Why Sheffield United's John Fleck has been handed a major boost in his battle to represent Scotland at the European Championships this summer
John Fleck has been handed a major incentive in his bid to represent Scotland at the European Championships after Steve Clarke, the midfielder’s international manager, revealed his admiration for the 29-year-old.
Despite a series of indifferent performances for Sheffield United in recent months - his efforts to recapture the heights of last season being hampered by a serious back complaint - Fleck has been selected for his country’s latest round of World Cup qualifiers.
Although reaching Qatar 2022 will be Scotland’s main focus during those games, they are also likely to influence Clarke’s selections for this summer’s tournament.
Asked about the circumstances behind Fleck’s recall, Clarke suggested he is already minded to include Fleck in his plans for the Euro’s, saying: “John’s a player I like. I’ve had him in the squad before, he actually picked up a very serious injury playing for us in October against Slovakia.
“I believe it was a broken back, which sounds bad and he was out for a long time. (His) recent performances have been good and he deserves his place in the squad.”
Fleck is expected to make his second appearance for United when they face Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday. His team mate Oli McBurnie has also been called-up by Clarke ahead of Scotland’s meetings with Austria, Israel and the Faroe Islands. But Oliver Burke, signed by former United manager Chris Wilder at the beginning of the Premier League campaign, has not been included in the 26 strong party.
Wilder departed Bramall Lane last week, with United bottom of the table and destined for relegation although his relationship with members of the board rather than results were responsible for his exit.
“It’s been a difficult season for everybody at Sheffield United,” Clarke said. “Unfortunately Chris Wilder lost his job recently, which is never nice.”
Paul Heckingbottom has taken charge of United until the end of the campaign, with Jason Tindall drafted onto the coaching staff to assist the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian manager who previously served as head coach of their under-23’s side. Alan Knill, Wilder’s number two, and Matt Prestridge remain in South Yorkshire for the time being at least.