Sheffield Wednesday caretaker boss Lee Bullen makes honest Steven Fletcher admission

From a completely selfish standpoint, Lee Bullen is delighted in-form Owls striker Steven Fletcher is not currently away on Scotland international duty.

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 12:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 5:37 pm

The Wednesday striker has been in a rich vein of form this season, notching three goals in six Championship starts.

But despite his impressive goal-scoring exploits, Fletcher was a notable absentee from the Scotland squad selected for their forthcoming European Championship 2020 qualifiers with Russia and Belgium.

The 32-year-old admitted in mid-August he was considering international retirement and said he planned to discuss his Scotland future with manager Steve Clarke before making a decision. Fletcher has bagged 10 goals in 33 appearances for the national side, but admits he has a tough call to make on whether his body can cope with the rigours of both club and international football.

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Owls striker Steven Fletcher

Speaking in a recent interview, interim boss Bullen told The Star: "No, he [Fletcher] has not really spoken to me (about his Scotland future). I'm not sure if he has spoken with the manager up there.

"He has been doing really well here.

"If I am being honest, I am delighted from a selfish point of view (he is not in the squad).

"I am gutted as a Scotsman because I think he can be very effective but he has been excellent for us this season and if it gives us an opportunity to give him a couple of days rest and reset the batteries again for what will be a tough September and that benefits us.

"That is me being totally selfish from a Wednesday side but a bit silly from the Scotland side."

Barry Bannan, Fletcher's Owls team-mate, also missed out on a Scotland call-up.

Wednesday defender Liam Palmer was originally selected in the squad but pulled out after Saturday's loss to Queens Park Rangers with the birth of his third child due.

With Palmer and Norwich City's Grant Hanley ruled out, Owls defender David Bates and Aberdeen's Mikey Devlin were called up on Sunday despite playing only three matches between them this season.

Bates, on a season-long loan from German club Hamburg, has not played for the Scots since earning his fourth cap against San Marino in March.

As for Devlin, he has yet to make his international debut despite having been called up to previous squads.

Scotland assistant coach Steven Reid said: "I look at it as a great opportunity, certainly for the two lads that have come in.

"Michael was involved in the summer so he knows us and the way we have been working. He trained really well in the summer camp and is a fantastic character, as is David.

"Often you find it's an injury or a pull-out for a different reason and someone gets an opportunity and they need to take it.

"I went to the World Cup in 2002. I wasn't in the original squad. There was an injury to Mark Kennedy and all of a sudden I got called up and I was the first substitution in the first game against Cameroon.

"So often an injury to one is an opportunity to another, they just have to be ready to take it.

"We still have really good quality coming in."

Scotland, fourth in qualifying Group I with six points from four fixtures, host Russia on Friday, September 6, before welcoming Belgium three days later.