Levein: Fletcher's hunger was key

PA Sport
Steven Fletcher has been welcomed back into the Scotland squad
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Steven Fletcher has been welcomed back into the Scotland squad

Manager Craig Levein described Steven Fletcher's dramatic return to the Scotland fold as "a no-brainer" after the player indicated his desire to end his international exile.

Until now, Fletcher had not been considered for the national team since informing the Scottish Football Association by text message that he did not wish to be selected for a game against Northern Ireland in February 2011.

"I got a text saying he was willing to have a chat about it so I called him last night and, as he said to that person, he was desperate to come back and play," Levein said. "For me, then, it's a no-brainer."

The Sunderland striker was a shock inclusion in the 25-man squad named at Hampden for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Belgium.

Levein made it clear the door was closed to the 25-year-old at the start of this qualifying campaign, before Fletcher indicated last month via Twitter his willingness to pull on the dark blue jersey again if wanted.

And, following the intervention of an unnamed third party, the Scotland boss eventually "bit the bullet" and picked up the phone to end the stand-off for the sake of the nation's qualification hopes.

"This was the right thing for Scotland and for our chances of winning the next match. That's why I did it," he added. "His willingness to come back and play, which I hadn't had indication of other than rumours - that was hugely important."

Scotland endured a stuttering start to the campaign after taking just two points from their opening two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia.

But Levein refused to dwell on what might have been had the situation with Fletcher been resolved earlier.

He said: "Things happen and there is no point looking back on what might have been."

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