Scottish football: Steven Fletcher said today that he is looking to make up for lost time after admitting to regrets over his exile from the Scotland national team.
The prolific Sunderland striker has come in from the cold after ending his feud with manager Craig Levein and is set to feature in the World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Belgium.
Fletcher found himself frozen out after he sent a text message to a Scottish Football Association official in February 2011 informing him he did not wish to be selected for the Nations Cup game against Northern Ireland.
Now, both Fletcher and his manager seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet, and the striker, who has scored five times in five Premier League matches for the Mackems this season, is only interested in looking forward.
Fletcher said: “I am desperate to play for Scotland again and, like Craig, I regret that it has taken this long to come about.
“I’m sure we have both done a lot of thinking during the last two years, but the country comes first.
“I think it just became apparent that we all needed to move on. The most important thing is that I can look to restart my international career.
“I am a proud Scot and it is a privilege to play for my country. When I first spoke to Craig again it was fine and was not awkward at all. We both said our piece and agreed that whatever happened, the country comes first.
“I had a good chat with the manager when he came to visit at the training ground last week and, while it was important we discussed the past and put it to bed, it was more important that we focused on the future.
“I understand why people want to know what changed, but the truth, as the manager said last week, was that the situation wasn’t helping anyone.
“I am just happy to be back as part of the squad and looking to make a positive contribution in what are two massive World Cup qualifiers.”
Levein desperately needs Fletcher to hit the ground running as his side’s draws against Serbia and Macedonia last month have already left them playing catch-up in Group A.
Fletcher added: “Everyone knows it has been too long since we last qualified for a major finals and I want to do my bit to help us reach Brazil.”