Scotland v Ireland: Mick McCarthy highlights Fletcher threat

Scotland striker Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher has been in excellent form for his club side Sunderland in recent weeks
Scotland v Republic of Ireland
Venue: Celtic Park Date: 14 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland & online. Live text on BBC Sport website.

Mick McCarthy has marked out Steven Fletcher as Scotland's danger man, and expressed surprise that the striker is not with one of England's top clubs.

The former Republic of Ireland manager was Fletcher's boss at Wolves before the forward's move to Sunderland.

"Fletch and Steven Naismith are playing well," he said ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier between Scotland and Ireland.

"When I was asked about Fletch by other managers, I said he could play in the top four teams in England."

Fletcher scored only three goals in 27 appearances during an injury-hit season last term for the Black Cats.

But the 27-year-old goes into Friday's crucial Group D match in fine form, having hit the net four times in 12 outings this season, despite another spell on the sidelines.

Former Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness and former Republic of Ireland defender Mick McCarthy
Former Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness and former Republic of Ireland defender Mick McCarthy

"He's still a young man and should be at his peak," said McCarthy, now managing Ipswich Town, who thinks Fletcher should be gracing a Champions League club.

"Unfortunately, some of the injuries have restricted him from playing.

"Honestly, I thought he could play for any one of the top four teams.

"I don't see him that much now, but I saw his goals recently against Crystal Palace - his header for the first was fantastic and his second finish was that of a cold, calculated predator."

Fletcher also had a spell out of the Scotland set-up after a fall-out with then national coach Craig Levein.

"I was in charge when he was not playing for Scotland and I could never understand that," said McCarthy.

"It was just a shame as he was playing well then. It hurt him. He wanted to play, he wanted to be involved in it."

Former Scotland captain Graeme Souness is also an admirer of Fletcher, but wants to see the striker increase his goal ratio in dark blue.

The forward has played 17 times for his country but has netted only once.

"I'm looking for Steven Fletcher to score some goals," said Souness, who won 54 caps.

Former Scotland captain Graeme Souness
"You can't always be playing well to win football matches. If you've got a goal-getter and play badly, you can nick games."

"One in 17 is not great, and I'm a fan. If you look back to Crystal Palace last week he scored two great goals, two very different goals, and I'm looking for him to transfer that kind form into international football.

"Looking at us now, we are a really hard team to play against. We are organised, we are difficult to break down. But we need someone who can grab goals from nothing.

"You can't always be playing well to win football matches. If you've got a goal-getter and play badly, you can nick games."

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