Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has hailed John Fleck’s performances this season as “incredible” following the midfielder’s Scotland call-up.
Fleck, 28, man of the match in the Blades’ home defeat to Liverpool last week, has been included in Steve Clarke’s squad for this month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Russia and San Marino.
“He thoroughly deserves it as he’s been incredible,” said Wilder, whose side will bid to bounce back on Saturday at bottom club Watford.
“We brought him in on a free transfer from Coventry when we were in League One and he’s embraced every level since and moved forward.
“He got injured, which was disappointing for him and us, but got back in the team and has kicked on.
“Being called up again is a great reward for him and hopefully he can do himself justice when he goes up the road.”
Fleck, yet to make his senior Scotland debut, was first included in the squad in November 2018 and again in May, with the latter call-up coinciding with his wedding.
“His general performance was excellent in and out of possession,” Wilder said of Fleck’s display against Liverpool. “He made some great balls, driving past midfield players and setting people up.
“It was a proper midfield performance all round, but as always, we need that other little bit.
“Add goals to John’s all-round performance, and I think he’ll be looking to do that, then it goes from a very good performance into a top drawer one.”
Wilder had been hoping Dean Henderson would win his first senior England call-up for their qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, but the goalkeeper has been overlooked.
Wilder had responded to Henderson’s glaring error against Liverpool, which cost the Blades a share of the points, by saying he would not be consoling the 22-year-old.
His tough stance sparked a big debate among Blades fans this week, with some criticising Wilder’s man-management skills.
“Sometimes people say things to create debate and drag something out,” Wilder said. “Maybe it was a slow week for people, but I didn’t think there was anything in it.
“It was how we manage. The players, Dean included, are mentally very tough, from where they’ve come from, the journey they’ve been on.
“Bits and pieces that get picked up on, some I agree on, some I disagree on and some I think is total noise and nonsense, so that’s where I’m at with it.
“I’ve got to say though, that I’m the biggest supporter of these players by a million miles.”
Wilder confirmed he had no new injury problems for the trip to Vicarage Road.
David McGoldrick will not recover from a groin injury in time, but fellow striker Billy Sharp returns to contention following suspension.
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P