Sheffield Wednesday reaping the benefits of Owls star’s Scotland absence

There comes a time in a footballer's career, when tough decisions have to be made.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 9:02 pm

For Steven Fletcher, a fiercely proud Scot, that dilemma arrived recently and prompted a call that he wouldn’t have taken lightly.

The Sheffield Wednesday forward, one of the most important members of the Owls squad was forced, albeit by himself, to choose between his club career and pulling on a Scotland jersey.

Fletcher is coming towards the twilight of his career but at 32 there are still a few more years left in him. However, as a player who has at times struggled with knocks and niggles primarily due to the nature of his game, those years could be a lot more rewarding in a club sense if he took away one physically and mentally draining aspect.

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Owls pair Steven Fletcher and Barry Bannan

And so it was the rigours of international football that were sacrificed – though not indefinitely.

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Wednesday are already gaining the benefit of that decision, with Fletcher not missing as many games as he had done in the past while at Hillsborough and his form has been consistently impressive.

Scotland could certainly do with a player of Fletcher’s undoubted ability just now and he’s able to keep tabs on how things are behind the scenes in Steve Clarke's camp thanks toOwls team mate Liam Palmer’s addition to the squad.

Scotland and Sheffield Wednesday defender Liam Palmer

“With Fletch, he has got to that age now where he is trying to look after his body and prolong his club career as long as possible,” said the full back ahead of Scotland’s match away to Cyprus on Saturday. “He has been on the international scene for a number of years but with the demands put on him with the team [Sheffield Wednesday] at the moment he is obviously a main focal point, everything goes through him. He comes off the pitch with stitches, bleeding, nearly every single game after aerial battles and things.

“He works tirelessly on his own sometimes, feeding off scraps, chasing things that don't come, so it is demanding. That is someone who is giving his all week in week out and he has decided that coming away isn't going to help him prolong his club career.”

It’s not the end though, as Palmer adds: “Could he answer the call in March? It is hard to say, he loves football, he loves playing. So you would never say never.”

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Liam Palmer made his Scotland debut last March
Scotland's Steven Fletcher celebrates scoring for Scotland in 2015. Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
Steven Fletcher in action for Scotland against Slovakia