‘I wish people would do their homework’ – Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce hits back at Steven Fletcher’s Scotland critics

Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce has taken a swipe at pundits who criticised Steven Fletcher over missing Scotland's opening European Championship 2020 qualifiers.

Friday, 29th March 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 10:58 am
Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher is an injury doubt ahead of Stoke City

Fletcher made himself unavailable for selection for the Scots recent fixtures against Kazakhstan and San Marino, prompting former Blackburn Rovers striker Chris Sutton to say he should never play for his country again.

Ex-Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher also questioned the Owls forward's decision to sit-out the two qualifiers.

Sheffield Wednesday striker Steven Fletcher is an injury doubt ahead of Stoke City

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But Steven Fletcher, who was forced off with a groin injury in Wednesday's Championship victory over Blackburn Rovers before the two-week injury break, asked to be left out of the Scotland squad in order to manage his fitness.

Speaking at today's press briefing ahead of the Owls' trip to Stoke City, Bruce said: "I have seen all this nonsense written and spoken about him which would upset anyone.

"At the end of the day, he (Fletcher) had to come off in the last game so he was genuinely injured.

"We were 1-0 up with half and hour to go at the time and we had to take our centre-forward off, which was not ideal, so I wish people would do their homework on him before writing these awful stories about him."

Fletcher, who has bagged five goals in his last six Wednesday outings, only has an "outside chance" of featuring against Stoke this weekend.

"He is still highly doubtful," said Bruce. "We will give him as long as possible."

If Fletcher is ruled out, Bruce has other options at his disposal. Fernando Forestieri (hamstring) and Lucas Joao (knee) are poised to return to the squad while fellow forward Gary Hooper - who has not played a competitive match since Boxing Day 2017 - could also be included in the matchday squad.

Bruce said: "It is good to see them knocking around the squad again that's for sure.

"But I am also mindful of the fact that a lot of them have been out a long, long time so you can't just expect them to come in with eight games to go and hit the ground running. Let's hope one of them can do but I know how difficult that is.”