Fletcher back, Commons dropped
Levein welcomes back skipper for crucial games
By Pete O'Rourke - Follow me: @skysportspeteo. Last Updated: August 26, 2011 11:44am
Commons: Dropped by Scotland for Euro 2012 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Lithuania.
Darren Fletcher is back in the Scotland squad, but Kris Commons has been dropped by Craig Levein for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Lithuania.
Scotland captain Fletcher has not featured for his country in 2011 after being struck down by a virus in the spring and coach Levein admitted earlier this month he would need to make "exceptional" progress to make the Hampden double-header.
But the Manchester United midfielder was named in the squad for the games against the Czechs on 3rd September and Lithuania three days later
Fletcher was sidelined by the virus, which caused sudden weight loss, for two months between early March and early May.
Despite playing 90 minutes against Blackpool in United's final Premier League match of last season and making the substitutes' bench for the Champions League final, Fletcher suffered a relapse in the summer and missed his club's pre-season tour of the United States.
But the 27-year-old played two full reserve games against Arsenal and Swansea this week and Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed the midfielder would be in his squad to face the Gunners on Sunday.
Celtic winger Commons, who was ruled out of the friendly win over Denmark earlier this month with a foot injury but has since returned to club action, is not included in the 25-man squad.
100 % fit
Levein was delighted to welcome back Fletcher to the fold and insists he is 100 per cent fit to play.
"I'm thrilled. He's arguably our best player and a perfect role model and example to the rest of the guys in the squad," noted Levein.
"I will also give a special mention to Kenny Miller for his role as captain when Darren hasn't been there, he has been fantastic.
"Darren is 100%. I spoke to him on Monday night. He played 90 minutes of a reserve game the previous week and he played 90 minutes last night.
"I had someone at the game and he is looking great and he is telling me this is the best he has felt for almost a year.
"I'm delighted to have him back and the way I'm looking at it is that he will be fit to play in both matches."
Levein revealed a loss of form was the reason behind the omission of Commons, who missed a penalty in Celtic's 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Sunday.
And Levein also indicated that Rangers full-back Lee Wallace would not have been involved either even if he had not picked up an injury in last night's Europa League game against Maribor.
Loss of form
"I just feel that Kris hasn't really hit the ground running at the start of this season," added Levein.
"When you look at him last season and the form that he was in, I just don't think he is anywhere near the same kind of form.
"For some reason, he hasn't started this season particularly well.
"He's kind of in the same bracket as Lee Wallace, who hasn't quite hit the ground running at Rangers."
Alan Hutton is included despite not featuring for Tottenham this season amid knee problems. The right-back pulled out of the squad that beat Denmark 2-1 at Hampden for the same reason.
Levein will be keen for the former Rangers player to make the game against play-off rivals Czech Republic as Ibrox full-back Steven Whittaker is suspended for that encounter.
Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon is again missing as he recovers from knee surgery while Cardiff midfielder Don Cowie has kept his place after featuring against the Danes following a late call-up.
Levein also said there was no change in Steven Fletcher's situation despite his fine early form for Wolves.
Fletcher has not been involved since he indicated he did not want to be selected for Scotland's Carling Nations Cup game against Northern Ireland in February.
"Steven Fletcher is a fantastic player and I would never say anything other than that," continued Fletcher.
"But until he indicates that he wants to play for Scotland, he won't be selected. It's simple."
Gilks (Blackpool), McGregor (Rangers), Turner (Preston);
Bardsley (Sunderland), Berra (Wolves), Caldwell (Wigan), Crainey (Blackpool), Hanley (Blackburn), Hutton (Tottenham), Whittaker (Rangers), Wilson (Liverpool); Adam (Liverpool), Bannan (Aston Villa), Brown (Celtic), Cowie (Cardiff), Dorrans (West Brom), Fletcher (Manchester United), Forrest (Celtic), Morrison (West Brom), Naismith (Rangers), Robson (Middlesbrough), Snodgrass (Leeds); Goodwillie (Blackburn), Mackail-Smith (Brighton), Miller (Cardiff).