Steven Fletcher must make call to Scotland boss, says Paul Hartley

Steven Fletcher celebrates scoring for Sunderland
Steven Fletcher celebrates scoring for Sunderland

Former Scotland midfielder Paul Hartley believes it is up to Steven Fletcher to approach Craig Levein if the striker wants to end his international exile.

Some Scotland fans say Fletcher should be recalled after saying on Twitter he would now accept a call-up.

But Hartley has sympathy for the national coach and said: "It's up to Steven to come and speak to Craig now.

"He said he didn't want to play for the national team, so what do you do as a manager?"

Fletcher has not played since sending a text to a member of Levein's backroom staff saying he did not wish to be considered for a friendly against Northern Ireland in February 2011.

And Hartley thinks that, until Fletcher makes a move to resolve the dispute, Levein must forget about the striker, despite his goalscoring feats since his £14m summer move to Sunderland from Wolves.

"People will say the door was left open for Steven for 18 months," said Hartley, who won 25 caps.

"If he doesn't want to play for you, you have to forget about it, pick the strongest squad you can and hopefully try to win games."

Hartley believes Levein can win over the fans and turn Hampden boos into cheers
Hartley believes Levein can win over the fans and turn Hampden boos into cheers

Scotland travel to play Wales on 12 October seeking a first win of a World Cup qualifying campaign that began with home draws against Serbia and Macedonia.

Those results have led to criticism of Levein from some fans and in the media, but Hartley, presently managing Second Division outfit Alloa Athletic, backed his former manager at Hearts.

"It's such an intense job," said the 35-year-old. "But, if we win in Wales, all is forgotten

"I'm sure he can handle that pressure. It comes along with the job, being the national manager.

"To try to get to the World Cup, the pressure's on you, everybody scrutinises you and it's not easy.

"The Wales game becomes such a vital game now and it's a game they can win, that's for sure.

"You can't write us off. Craig will admit we're disappointed to draw the two games, but the important thing is we didn't get beat."

St Johnstone defender Callum Davidson thinks Fletcher must do more than simply answer a question from a punter on Twitter and should be probed by journalists after the next Sunderland match.

"I would rather somebody ask him after the game, ask him, do you want to play for Scotland again?" the 36-year-old defender who won 19 Scotland caps told BBC Scotland.

"If he turns round, not on Twitter, on television and he says yes, he definitely wants to play for Scotland again, that's the first step.

"The social network, it can be good as well as bad and I think you need to hear from him himself."

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