Sheffield Wednesday defender suggests teammate's international future is in his own hands
Steven Fletcher’s future as a Scotland international may well be in his own hands, according to Liam Palmer.
The Sheffield Wednesday defender, eligible for Scotland through the birthplace of his grandmother, was handed his second and third caps for Steve Clarke’s side during the ongoing international break.
A 6-0 win over San Marino on Sunday has done little to heal the wounds of four consecutive defeats for the Scots, with supporters and pundits alike questioning the absence of Fletcher, who hasn’t featured in any of the last four squads.
Although their conventional qualification route to UEFA 2020 is in tatters, Scotland can still qualify after winning the Nations League play-offs after 33-cap Fletcher played a starring role as they won their group last year.
Speaking before their 4-0 thrashing in Russia last week, Clarke claimed Fletcher, who already has five goals in a stellar start to his Championship season, was absent because of “issues with a part of his body.”
The 32-year-old missed the Owls’ midweek defeat at Hull earlier this month with an ankle injury.
Asked about his absence of his teammate, Palmer said: “He is keen on looking after himself. He is always in the gym. He is even bigger now!
“He is obsessed with getting himself right to play as many games as possible. It is difficult the role he has to play for us because we rely on him heavily as that target man. It’s the job he did for Scotland, too, when getting us to the Nations League play-offs.”
Wednesday playmaker Barry Bannan was also overlooked having not played international football in over two years. Both have told The Star in recent months that they are considering their futures with Scotland.
Asked whether he had any idea about Fletcher’s intentions, Palmer suggested it was a question for the player himself and seemed hopeful he would return.
“You would have to ask him,” he said. “I am not sure. In terms of his age and things he is looking at future tournaments and whether it’s right for him, that it is hard for me to say.
“Definitely the way he is performing, which is all I can go on, he has been one of our best players this season.”
Scotland’s next round of fixtures arrive next month as they round off their qualifying campaign against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.