Fletcher wary of ‘lively’ Torres

Scotland skipper Fletcher does not buy in to the perception that

Spain’s star striker Torres is struggling for form ahead of the

game in Alicante. The Chelsea frontman was substituted after an

hour of Friday’s 2-0 win over Czech Republic in Prague but coach

Vicente del Bosque said afterwards that he saw Torres “in good form

with a lot of energy and enthusiasm to be part of our team”, and

thus looks set to keep him in against the Scots, who need a win to

guarantee them a play-off spot. Like the Spain boss, Fletcher

remains impressed by Torres. “I think his performances have been

good since the start of the season,” said the Manchester United

midfielder. “Maybe he hasn’t had the goals but if you look at his

overall performance he has looked, hungry, dangerous and lively.

“Maybe he is a little too keen at times. I think his sending-off

(for Chelsea against Swansea) was down to his sheer determination

to do well and show people that he cares. “But watching the game

against Czech Republic the other night, he did his role for the

team. “He held a high line, he stretched the Czech Republic as much

as he could and threatened in behind which gave the space for the

creative players to keep the ball in midfield. “So it was a

fantastic performance for the team without getting the rewards of a

goal.” Del Bosque is considering rotating his squad but Fletcher

does not necessarily believe that will be an advantage to the

Scots, who need to at least match Czech Republic’s result in

Lithuania to retain the coveted second spot. “I know from

experience that if you change five or six players then it does take

a while to get consistency,” the 27-year-old said. “But whoever

comes in will be world class and you have the other aspect that

whoever comes in will also be desperate to do well, so there are

two ways to look at it.” Scotland boss Craig Levein would not read

too much into possible changes to Spain’s regular line-up. He said:

“There might be one or two who play who did not play against Czech

Republic but if you could point out which ones are weak I would be

very grateful. “You know and I know that whoever they bring in will

just pose a different type of challenge.” Levein, though, stressed

the importance of Fletcher to his side and claimed he is an

aspirational figure to the other players. “I think he flourishes

with responsibility,” said the Scotland boss. “His importance to

this team is almost beyond words. “Every player in our team will

aspire to be as good as Darren Fletcher.”