BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Andy Walker believes Steven Fletcher deserves to get the nod to lead Scotland’s attack in the crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland tomorrow night.
Debate has raged over who Gordon Strachan should select as his lone striker against the Poles as the Scots seek at least a draw in the hope of keeping their qualification dreams alive.
Cases have been made for the likes of the on-form Leigh Griffiths and Steven Naismith or even the likes of Chris Martin or Jordan Rhodes.
However, former Motherwell, Celtic and Bolton Wanderers marksman Walker reckons Fletcher provides the all-round game that Scotland will need if they are to earn a positive result against Group D’s second-placed side.
The three-times capped Scotland internationalist said: “From now until the Scottish team is announced, everyone will speculate on who should play up front.
“Steven Fletcher has been our main attacker throughout the campaign, but has come under increasing fire for recent poor displays.
“A growing number of fans would prefer a starting slot for Leigh Griffiths, Steven Naismith, Chris Martin or Jordan Rhodes.
“Apart from Naismith, every striker scored at the weekend and will consider themselves to be in good form. Even Naismith can cite his recent hat-trick against Chelsea to indicate how impressive he can be as a goal-scoring threat.
“I think it’s too easy to simply look at who is our best goalscorer right now for a starting slot.
“Given the way Scotland play under Strachan, the key to our success in our three victories so far has been in the form of our attack-minded players playing directly behind the main striker.
“The key to the vast majority of a lot of our best attacking play against strong, experienced opponents in tough venues has been the form of Steven Fletcher.
“His ability to offer a secure first touch and bring others into the game has been terrific and that’s why, despite the recent criticism of his end product and poor goal-scoring return, I’d still play him from the start.”
Walker added to Sky Sports: “Leigh Griffiths has, of course, been playing well for Celtic, scoring both at home and in Europe.
“But Scotland simply do not dominate as much of the possession in any 90 minutes the same way Celtic do. Fletcher is a better bet at holding the ball up, linking the play and being an aerial threat on the international scene.
“Defensively, we will have to be at our best. But, in a game where just one goal might make the difference, my four attacking players to start would be Steven Fletcher as the main striker with Shaun Maloney, Steven Naismith and Matt Ritchie behind him.”