If Steven Pressley had his way, Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck would have made his Scotland debut years ago.
Fleck could make his first appearance for his country during this international break. The Scots play Russia tonight and then San Marino on Sunday in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Aged 28, Fleck is finally getting recognition from his national side. Yet it has been a long time coming, with Pressley recommending the midfield ace to former Scotland manager Gordon Strachan back when the duo were at Coventry City.
Before joining the Blades in the summer of 2016 as one of Chris Wilder’s first signings, Fleck was at Coventry for four years. Pressley was his boss for a little under two of those, before being sacked in February 2015.
“John was a player I actually mentioned on a number of occasions to Gordon Strachan, because I had worked closely with him,” the Carlisle United chief told Capital City Press.
“He was a player I always felt had the ability to play at the top level and I’m delighted to see him doing so.
“I have no doubts he can prove himself as an international.
“Throughout my time at Coventry, he was without doubt my best player and I always felt he could go higher.”
Finally Scotland give Fleck a chance
Strachan eventually left his position in October 2017 after the Scots’ failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In his defence, at the time of Pressley’s recommendation Fleck was a League One player.
Since then he has played a key role in getting the Blades promoted twice in three years. Now in the Premier League, Fleck continues to impress and recently put in a man of the match performance in the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Yet still he has had to wait for international recognition. Fleck was called up by Alex McLeish but not used. With Steve Clarke now in charge his opportunity appears to have finally come.
Fleck could have played in qualifiers against Cyprus and Belgium in June, but was unavailable because he was getting married. Last month he wasn’t able to play due to injury.
But more than four years since Pressley first highlighted his talent, Fleck could win his first senior cap tonight.