Fletcher fired up
Scotland skipper Darren Fletcher believes the heavy criticism he and his teammates received after the recent defeat in Norway can inspire them to get their World Cup bid back on track.
Fletcher has been stung by the abuse that followed the 4-0 loss in Olso and the Manchester United midfielder is determined to set the record straight in the country's make-or-break final two qualifiers.
Scotland went into Saturday's game against Macedonia knowing they had to win their main rivals for second place in group nine and then beat the group winners the Netherlands on Wednesday to give themselves a chance of making the play-offs for next summer's competition in South Africa.
The odds are against them but the 25-year-old Fletcher is convinced the players are more focused than ever in light of the reaction to the disaster in Norway.
"I can sense a real determination amongst the players." he said.
"People are writing us off and that has brought the players together. They want to prove people wrong.
"People talk about the disastrous performance in Norway but that game was dictated by the referee and a variety of other things.
"The players gave their best but we were down to ten men for most of the match. We lost 4-0, which don't get me wrong is a bad result, but what do you do? Do you sit back with ten men after just losing a goal? You're still going to lose the game that way, but we tried to come back into it and took some chances. We opened up and ended up losing by a few. That's the risk we took. We are in the position we're in because that's where we deserve to be. But we have a chance to put that right."
Fletcher has grown at club level in recent years, from squad man to ever-present in a Manchester United side full of superstars. But many feel he hasn't been able to replicate his vintage displays for his club in the dark blue of his country.
His status as a Premiership winner makes him the biggest-profile name in the squad but he insists that doesn't put him under any extra pressure.
"The fans expect from everyone," Fletcher said.
"If there is more expectation on me that's something I'm prepared to take. But because you play for Manchester United shouldn't mean there is more expectancy. Regardless, I have high expectancy on myself. No matter what the pressure the fans put on me, it won't be as much as I put on myself to do well for my country.
"That's part and parcel of football. I've been around for a few years now and I've learned how to deal with that type of thing. The pressure comes from myself first and foremost and expectancy is something you have to deal with."