Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce praises ‘model pro’ Steven Fletcher

“Immense”. That’s the word that springs to mind for Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce when he thinks about Steven Fletcher.

And it’s just one of a number of adjectives the Owls boss has used to describe the Scottish striker in recent weeks after a prolific run of form saw him bag five goals in his last six league matches for Wednesday.

Forward Fletcher, who is Wednesday’s top marksman this season, scored his 11th of the campaign in the last match against Blackburn Rovers at Hillsborough to cap off a fine run since the start of 2019 which has seen him net seven times in three months.

The international break will provide a much-needed break for the 31-year-old, as he remains in Sheffield after agreeing not to join up with Scotland for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and San Marino.

Fletcher, who is carrying a groin injury from last weekend’s match, revealed this week that the artificial surface in Astana could risk a recurrence of knee and ankle complaints that kept him sidelined for eight months last year.

Speaking to the Star, Owls chief Bruce praised Fletcher’s approach to his physical fitness as Wednesday enter a crucial run in the league.

“He does a lot himself,” Bruce said. “I think the big problem with the Scotland one is playing on artificial pitches.

"If you have got a funny knee, it is the worst thing you can do.

"I think he manages himself very, very well.

"Certainly his life style. He is a model pro. I can't speak highly enough of him. If anyone has bought into what we want, it is him. He has epitomised everything that we want.

“Since I have walked through the door here - I don’t like singling people out really - but he’s been immense and his goals and his work rate and his attitude and he’s bought in to everything we’ve done here.

"He has been terrific and his goals and the way he has led the team, I have been absolutely delighted him.”

Fletcher was one of three fresh injuries for Bruce to add to an increasingly busy physio room at Middlewood Road as Sam Hutchinson and Barry Bannan also walked out of Hillsborough with small knocks on Saturday.

And Bruce revealed the injury curse has been the hardest part of his job so far.

"It is my biggest headache that I have at the club in terms of what we have inherited in terms of long-term injuries,” he said. “We have got so many it is scary.

"I think we were without 10 for the match against Blackburn, which is a colossal sum of people.

"Let's hope they can get fit and stay fit for the rest of the run in.”