Scotland can take hope from defeat of Dutch, says Fletcher

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The Independent Football

Fletcher, 21, created Scotland's winning goal for James McFadden against the Netherlands in the first leg of their Euro 2004 play-off two years ago.

"Italy are one of the world's best teams - top of our group and full of world-class players and confidence," the Manchester United midfielder said. "But we're looking to spring a shock like we did against the Dutch."

The Netherlands, whose line-up included several stellar talents from Serie A, appeared as unnerved by the decibel level inside Hampden Park as Vogts' men were galvanised. "The Tartan Army are brilliant, they're like a 12th man for us," Fletcher explained. "I know the Italians are accustomed to big crowds and stadiums, but whether they will be used to an atmosphere like a full Hampden remains to be seen."

Scotland lost the second leg 6-0 in Amsterdam, a humiliation that proved the beginning of the end for Vogts. Now, having launched the Walter Smith era with a 2-0 defeat by Italy in Milan, they lie fifth in Group Five with only Moldova below them.

The performance against Francesco Totti and company was, however, more spirited and organised. Scotland followed that up by beating Moldova and drawing in Belarus and Austria. That improvement, allied to the fact that Scotland's last four matches are against nations above them, leads Fletcher to believe that they can yet claim another play-off opportunity.

"After Italy, we play Norway in Oslo next Wednesday and I would love to have six points from these two games," he said.

"But realistically, four points will keep us in with a chance of qualifying. We just have to keep ourselves in the hunt. If we can get down to the last qualifying fixture [away to Slovenia in October], knowing that we would go through if we won, that would be great for us.

"The aim is to keep our destiny in our hands for as long as possible."