Sunday 21 April 2019

Scotland need Steven Fletcher to start scoring to be dangerous - Graeme Souness

Scotland's Scott Brown (L) and Steven Fletcher celebrate scoring during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifyier against Poland. Photo credit: JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Scotland's Scott Brown (L) and Steven Fletcher celebrate scoring during the UEFA Euro 2016 Group D qualifyier against Poland. Photo credit: JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Gavin McCafferty

Former captain Graeme Souness feels Scotland could be a very dangerous outfit if they can find a regular goalscorer - and he has challenged Steven Fletcher to step up to the mantle.

Fletcher has not scored an international goal since his first five-and-half years ago, a close-range header in a 2-1 Hampden win over Iceland played amid the infamous Boozegate affair that ended Barry Ferguson's Scotland career.

Fletcher saw his cap count interrupted by a fall-out with Craig Levein but he has now made 17 appearances for his country with only that solitary goal to show for them.

The Sunderland striker has helped set up two of Scotland's four goals in their European Championship qualifying group so far, both thanks to excellent but different passes to Ikechi Anya.

But Souness wants the former Hibernian, Burnley and Wolves forward to start getting among the goals himself when Scotland host the Republic of Ireland at Celtic Park on Friday night.

"I'm looking for Steven Fletcher to score some goals," said the former Liverpool midfielder, who won 54 caps.

"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, I think 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.

"If we got that goal-getter, that would make us a very dangerous outfit. Someone who can just pull something out of the hat when you are under pressure."

Fletcher struggled for goals last season after coming back from an ankle injury, hitting the back of the net just three times.

But the 27-year-old has scored regularly in spells at the top level in England for three different clubs and Souness does not believe there is any reason he cannot do the same for Scotland.

Souness, who was in Glasgow to promote 666bet.com, said: "A lot of people say international football is a big step up but I never actually found that.

"You are playing against some great players, some good players and some bang-average players at times. The same applied when you were playing domestically.

"It's the same football, same rules, same-sized pitch.

"I think it's just one of those things, he just has to start putting away the chances he gets. It's not just him, I think (Steven) Naismith carries a threat as well. I'm a fan of his."

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