It Was a night to forget for the Scots, but Darren Fletcher believes that he can take something positive from the débâcle in Cardiff where his side lost 4-0 to Wales on Wednesday. The Manchester United midfielder says he has taken another step towards occupying the more pivotal role he craves.
The 20-year-old has long been earmarked as a prospect with the potential to make an impact at the top level and has now become a regular for both club and country. And Fletcher is already at the centre of some David Beckham-style debate.
Beckham is currently enjoying a central midfield role at Real Madrid yet is employed on the right for England by Sven Goran Eriksson, including in Wednesday night's 1-1 draw in Portugal.
That is a role that has been handed to Fletcher by Sir Alex Ferguson and Berti Vogts, the Scotland coach. But, like Beckham, Fletcher wants a more pivotal position and was granted that wish for the final 20 minutes in Cardiff once Blackburn's Paul Gallagher came on for a debut.
Fletcher said: "Everyone knows I enjoy it in the middle but I was told to do a job on the right and I tried my best. I've been playing there for the first team and have been enjoying every minute of it. But I think everyone can see that when I get in the middle I really enjoy it, try and get the ball and make things happen."
Fletcher added: "There was not much we could take out of the defeat. All the lads were disappointed and showed it in their faces in the dressing room. We didn't defend as a team and we all have to take responsibility."
For the Scots, only the striker Paul Dickov added significantly to his reputation with a buzzing performance and was unlucky not to net a consolation goal when a fizzing, angled drive skimmed the bar. His strike partner Kenny Miller was also lively and headed a good chance wide.
Vogts made it clear he believed Fletcher had been one of his side's better performers in an overall display he rated as the second most disappointing of his reign so far.
But Jim Bett, the former Scotland international, insisted there was no need to press the panic button. The build-up to the game was dominated by a debate over whether foreign players eligible to apply for British citizenship should be allowed to play for Scotland but Bett insisted that turning to foreign players as a quick fix was not the answer.
"Rainer Bonhof has had some very good results with the Scotland Under-21s and that is the way forward for us - it's just a case of giving it time," he said. "The first team guys aren't doing so well at the moment so there has never been a better time for the young players to come through."
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