Fletcher determined to put club before country

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The Independent Online

Manchester United's Darren Fletcher yesterday rejected a request from George Burley to sit out Sunday's Community Shield match against Chelsea. The Scotland manager was desperate to secure the early release of the midfielder for the crucial World Cup qualifier in Norway a week today but has been unsuccessful.

Burley had been in discussions with the player and the United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over the issue, but with a new season about to dawn, Fletcher did not want to jeopardise his place in the pecking order at Old Trafford.

After naming his 23-man squad for the Group Nine match in Oslo, Burley confirmed Fletcher would be his captain in the absence of Celtic's Stephen McManus. He will be hoping the 25-year-old avoids injury at Wembley this weekend, having already lost a number of midfielders for next week's tie.

Fletcher will fly to Scotland to link up with the squad shortly after Sunday's game. The majority of the party will convene tomorrow, but the seven Championship players selected will be on club duty this weekend and will join their international team-mates on Sunday.

Burley said he had no doubt about Fletcher's commitment to the Scotland cause. "There's nobody more committed to his country than Darren Fletcher," he said. "He's obviously been faced with a difficult situation, the chance to play at Wembley in a team where competition for places is fierce. I'm sure many other players would have taken the same decision. He'll join us up at the team hotel on Sunday and he'll captain us as we look to get the three points we all want so much in Norway."

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